Tag: Central Baltimore

What is the future for Baltimore’s city-owned historic properties?

Last week, the Baltimore Sun and others reported that Baltimore City is hiring an Annapolis-based appraisal firm to determine the “market value” of fifteen city-owned historic properties. Baltimore Heritage has asked the Mayor and the director of the Department of Public Works to make this process open and participatory—ensuring that there is a seat at the table for the many citizens and volunteers who for decades have protected and celebrated these important landmarks.

Upton Mansion in 1936, one of fifteen historic landmarks included in city-owned landmark review

Our most important goal must be to make sure the buildings are occupied, well cared for and remain intact as public assets for Baltimore. These fifteen properties are irreplaceable reminders of our city’s long history from the War of 1812 through the development and civic life of Baltimore up through the present. In addition, the ownership for each building should be evaluated based on what is best for its repair and maintenance. There are many different forms of ownership that these properties could have, ranging from public ownership and public use, leasing to nonprofit organizations, or even outright private ownership and private use. These options, and others, should be considered with the long-term care of the building as the guiding principle.

All of the properties should be protected with historic designation to make sure they are preserved, regardless of who owns them. Twelve of the fifteen properties are already on the city’s historic landmark list, requiring the approval of CHAP (the city’s preservation commission) for any exterior changes. Additional protections could include placing historic easements on the properties or including specific preservation requirements in leases or use agreements.

Finally, although the current proposal has targeted fifteen buildings, the city owns dozens more iconic historic structures — The Bromo Seltzer Tower, Patterson Park Pagoda, Flag House, H.L. Mencken House, Washington Monument, and Babe Ruth House, are all city-owned historic properties. If nothing else, the attention and concern over this study has put city-owned landmarks in the spotlight. We should seize the opportunity to ensure a future for all of these historic places by creating an inventory of city-owned structures and a rehabilitation and maintenance plan for each.

“This Place Matters” at the McKim Center

For nearly all of these buildings, from the Shot Tower to President Street Station, local residents and preservation organizations have spent years, even decades, working to celebrate their unique stories and preserve them for our city’s future. These leaders understand the importance of this history more than anyone else. They and the city’s preservation commission must be at the center of any consideration for their future.

Baltimore City-Owned landmarks identified for possible lease or sale

  1. Superintendent’s House, Clifton Park
  2. The Peale Museum, 225 N. Holliday St.
  3. Shot Tower, 801 E. Fayette St.
  4. Public Works Museum – Eastern Avenue Pumping Station, 701 Eastern Ave.
  5. Upton Mansion, 811 West Lanvale St.
  6. Valve House at Clifton Park, 2803 Saint Lo Drive
  7. Roland Park Water Tower, 4201 Roland Avenue
  8. West Arlington Water Tower, 4025 Ridgewood Avenue
  9. Engine House No. 6 – Baltimore Fire Museum, 416 N. Gay St.
  10. Cylburn House and Park, 4515 Greenspring Ave.
  11. McKim Free School, 120 E. Baltimore St.
  12. War Memorial, 101 N. Gay St.
  13. Old Town Friends’ Meeting House, 1201 E. Fayette St.
  14. Civil War Museum, President Street Station
  15. Orianda Mansion, Crimea Estate in Leakin Park, 4921 Windsor Mill Road

Behind the Scenes Tour: Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany: St. Mark’s Church

There are few places where you can stand in the middle of a room and almost everything you see is made or decorated by Tiffany:  glass, paint, finishes, etc.  St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church on St. Paul Street, with its entire interior designed by the Tiffany Company of New York, is one of them.  Please join our host, Reverend Dale Dusman, for a tour and a bit of Tiffany overload at this hidden Baltimore gem and us.

Tour Information

St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church | 1900 St. Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21218 (corner of St. Paul St. & North Ave.)
Saturday, January 28, 2012 | 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
$10 for members | $20 for non-members
RSVP for the tour today!

In the 1890’s, the St. Mark’s congregation engaged architect Joseph Evans Sperry (who would later go on to design Baltimore’s Bromo Seltzer Tower, among other buildings) to help them build a new church.  Sperry came up with a Romanesque design that is known for its heavy stones, arched doors and windows, and short columns.  Romanesque design comes from central and western Europe, where many of St. Mark’s congregants also traced their lineages.  (An Estonian congregation called EELK Baltimore Markuse Kogudus continues to use St. Mark’s for worship each month.)  In 1898 the church was completed, and since then has been one of Baltimore’s outstanding examples of Romanesque architecture.  On the inside, St. Mark’s engaged the Tiffany Glass Decorating Company, under the direction of artist Rene de Quelen (Tiffany’s head artist), to come up with a plan that was equally fitting to the grand architecture.  De Quelen used a Byzantine approach, with deep colors, lots of jewels, and many mosaics.  Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Tiffany’s founder and then head of the company, had studied art in Paris and had spent time in Spain and North Africa where he learned about this approach to decorating.  The interior boasts Tiffany windows and Rubio marble inlaid with mother of pearl for the altar, pulpit, and lectern.  Our host for the tour is Reverend Dale Dusman of St. Mark’s.  Although Reverend Dusman’s calling is the church, he has steeped himself in the history of St. Mark’s and its architecture.  Please join us on this All-Things-Tiffany tour.  We are sure you will never drive or walk past the 1900 block of St. Paul Street the same way again.

Why the West Side Matters: Join us for West Side Wednesdays this winter

Howard & Lexington, November 1966, image courtesy the Maryland Historical Society

This morning the Board of Estimates voted to extend the city’s land disposition agreement with Lexington Square Partners for the development of the Superblock for another year. We’ve spent much of 2011 pushing the city to recognize the importance of the West Side’s rich social and architectural history as an asset to the neighborhood’s revitalization. The development team has now acknowledged the landmark sit-in at Read’s Drug Store with a proposal to retain the exterior walls of the 1934 building and the City has approved a plan with funding to stabilize this publicly-owned building. We opposed the extension granted by the Board of Estimates this morning because we believe the development plan continues to call for the demolition of too many historic buildings. The West Side’s unique heritage should be the foundation for building a more vibrant and livable neighborhood so we are renewing our efforts to share the stories of the West Side with people from across the city.

Dr. Helena Hicks, West Side Walking Tour with City Neighbors Charter SchoolFor over two hundred years this neighborhood has been a center of activity to entrepreneurs and merchants of all kinds, suffragists and civil rights protestors, and much more. With all of these diverse stories to tell, we’re bringing back last winter’s Why the West Side Matters series here on our website and offering a new set of lunch time walking tours on the second Wednesday of each month from January through April 2012.

  • January 11 — Meet at Lexington Market (Eutaw & Lexington Streets)
  • February 8 — Meet at Pratt Library Central Branch (Cathedral Street between Franklin & Mulberry Streets)
  • March 14 — Meet at Lexington Market (Paca & Lexington Streets)
  • April 11 — Meet at Charles Center (Center Plaza)

Each unique 1-hour tour will start at 12:30 pm visiting places like Pascault Row, G. Krug & Son Iron Works, the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center, and much more. Come for one tour or come for them all and please make sure to join our e-mail list or connect with us on Facebook for reminders about these and other upcoming programs.

Join an open conversation connecting people, places and the past at Bmore Historic

We’re excited to announce a new event for local historians, museum professionals, preservationists, archivists, activists, scholars, students and anyone who cares about engaging communities around our shared heritage. Join us on December 2, 2011 at the Maryland Historical Society for Bmore Historic— an unconference on public history, historic preservation and community development in Baltimore and across the state of Maryland.

What is an “unconference”?

Anyone who goes to conferences knows that the most productive conversations often take place in the hallway or over drinks at the end of the day. An unconference takes this idea and runs with it. Unlike most traditional academic or professional meetings, an unconference is created and managed by the participants, with the topics of discussion sessions or workshops determined by everyone who attends on the day of the meeting, rather than in advance by the organizers. New unconferences are being organized around the country with examples including PubCamp for professionals in public media, Book Camp on books & publishing, THATCamp for scholars working with digital humanities, and (locally) CreateBaltimore unconference for art & technology. You don’t need to worry about preparing a PowerPoint or a formal paper, we’re just looking for people who are excited about historic places and ready share their knowledge and collaborate with

Why should I participate?

Bmore Historic is an opportunity to share your work, learn from others, get new ideas and develop new partnerships. This meeting is not limited just to scholars or professionals. Students, volunteer preservation activists, Main Street board members, museum docents, educators and others are all encouraged to register and attend. We hope that Bmore Historic can help strengthen connections between people who work with public history, preservation and community development across the region while expanding the diversity of the broader heritage community.

How do I register?

Online registration for the meeting is now open on our website. We’re accepting registrations on a first come, first served basis with confirmations starting in early November. After we confirm your registration, you’ll have a chance to share your session ideas in a blog post on the Bmore Historic website and check out ideas from other participants.

What does it cost?

We’re committed to charging $20 or less. With the space generously donated by the Maryland Historical Society, our costs are limited and we’re currently seeking funds to reduce the charge for all participants. This charge will be finalized by early November. If you are interested in sponsoring Bmore Historic, please get in touch with Eli Pousson at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org.

We’ll kick off the meeting on the evening of December 1 with “Giving the Past Presence: Public History Experiments in New York City” — a UMBC Humanities Forum with Marci Reaven, former director of City Lore and co-founder of Place Matters. We hope this talk can provide an inspiration for the conversations the next day. On December 2, we’ll be at the Maryland Historical Society with sessions in the morning and afternoon. Breakfast and lunch are both provided.

Bmore Historic is being organized in partnership with the Greater Baltimore History Alliance, the Maryland Association of History Museums, the Maryland Historical Society, the Maryland Historical Trust, Preservation Maryland, and the UMBC Orser Center for the Study of Place, Community, and Culture. If you have any questions, please get in touch with Eli Pousson at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org or 301-204-3337. We hope to see you in December!

Behind the Scenes Tour of a Thomas Moore Studios restoration at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion

Our next Behind the Scenes Tour will be an up-close examination of the restoration work that is currently in process in the ballroom of the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion with restoration artist Thomas Moore of Thomas Moore Studios. Mr. Moore will personally take us through the process of how he is returning this fabulous example of Gilded Age opulence to its former glory.

Tour Details

Garrett-Jacobs Mansion, 11 W. Mt. Vernon Place, 21201
Thursday, July 28 | 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
$15/members, $20/non-members – wine and cheese will be served.
RSVP for the tour today!

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