Tag: East Baltimore

Recent fire, financial challenges place the Eastern Female High School at risk

On July 11, the Eastern Female High School on Aisquith Street caught fire—just the latest challenge for this 1869 school-house turned apartment building that has stood empty and since it closed in 2001. We visited the building the day after the fire and found the structure largely intact but completely unsecured after the fire department had to break through the boarded up windows to put out the fire. We contacted Michael Braverman, Deputy Commissioner of Code Enforcement for the Baltimore City Housing Department and he quickly arranged to secure the building.  Unfortunately, the fire also left a hole in the roof that could make the damage to the interior even worse if it is not soon replaced or repaired.

Adding to the uncertainty is the situation of Sojourner-Douglass College, which purchased the building from Baltimore City in 2004. The college developed plans to convert the building into a science and allied health educational facility and presented their proposal to the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation in February of last year. But progress was slow, and stopped in the face of the school’s financial troubles. Recently, the college lost accreditation, and although Sojourner-Douglass is contesting the decision in court, it seems unlikely that the school will have the resources to pursue redevelopment of the Eastern Female High School in the near future.

We urge the leadership of the college to preserve the Eastern Female High School—stabilize the structure or find new ownership with the resources to turn this unique historic building back into an asset for East Baltimore.

Exterior view, Eastern Female High School. Photograph by Johns Hopkins, 2015 July 11.
Exterior view, Eastern Female High School. Photograph by Johns Hopkins, 2015 July 11.

Behind the Scenes Tour of the Institute of Notre Dame High School – rescheduled for August 12!

Join us on a tour of the Institute of Notre Dame – a Baltimore landmark that has educated young women for over 150 years. Our guide, long-time resident Sister Hilda Marie Sutherland better known as Sister Hildie, is 81 years old and a local treasure in her own right. She came to IND from St. Mary’s Female Orphan Asylum in Roland Park at age 14 and never left.

Originally established in 1847 as the Collegiate Institute of Young Ladies, the Institute of Notre Dame High School (IND) was founded by Baltimore’s own Mother Theresa – the Blessed Mother Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger. A native of Munich, Bavaria, Mother Theresa helped to found the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) in Germany and came to Baltimore with a small group of sisters to educate the children of immigrants and minister to the poor. Mother Theresa purchased the original convent building from the Redemptorist priests assigned to nearby St. James in 1847 and soon expanded the convent into a boarding school when the sisters discovered two orphans left on their doorstep. By 1852, the sisters had built the school that still stands today.

The school continued to grow through the years: adding an auditorium in 1885, a chapel in 1892, additional classroom space in 1926, and their gymnasium in 1992. Since the first graduation ceremony on July 24, 1864, over 7,000 alumnae have graduated from IND including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (1958) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (1954) who later recalled, “They taught me more than geography or mathematics; they taught me to help those in need of help. They inspired my passion for service.”

Sister Hildie is the perfect guide to the school’s rich legacy with over 60 years in residence at the school. Her service has touched countless students among the school’s students and East Baltimore residents who have been helped by her weekly efforts to collect clothing, household items and food to share with the school’s neighbors. Come out to Aisquith Street and discover the charms and history of Sister Hildie and IND!

Clifton Mansion set for a $7 million restoration

Mayor Rawlings-Blake signs Clifton renovation rendering with Civic Works Director Dana Stein
Mayor Rawlings-Blake signs Clifton renovation rendering with Civic Works Director Dana Stein

On January 7, the nonprofit youth training organization Civic Works announced that it has met its fundraising goal and is launching a $7 million restoration campaign for Clifton Mansion.  The Mansion was home to Henry Thompson, a War of 1812 hero, and the summer home of philanthropist Johns Hopkins. It is now owned by Baltimore City with Civic Works as a long-term tenant.

For me as the executive director of Baltimore Heritage and a board member of Civic Works, and, yes, with a name strongly associated with Clifton, one great part of this project is the tie between the past and the future. Hopkins – the philanthropist – gave his fortune to start the college and hospital that bear his name based on his belief that the future of Baltimore lay in educating our youth and providing basic services for all.  Civic Works today carries out that same vision by educating and training Baltimore youth and working to improve our neighborhoods. In fact, a number of young Baltimore apprentice carpenters from Civic Works will have the opportunity to work alongside master carpenters as part of the Clifton renovation project. What better place to bring past, present, and future together than Clifton?

The restoration work, which will take place over the next year, is a whole building project. It will include fully rebuilding the signature porches that surround the house, putting the main front stairs leading to the building back to their location in the mid-1800s, and renovating the interior throughout. And, thankfully, there is no talk of turning the building into another house museum. At the end, the Mansion will continue its dual role as office space for Civic Works and public space open for all of Baltimore. Stay tuned for a tour of this grand place as soon as the construction work allows.


Learn more about the history of Clifton Mansion and the War of 1812 on Explore Baltimore Heritage!

Boo! Greenmount and New Cathedral Cemetery tours for Halloween

Who’s Who in Baltimore: Greenmount Cemetery and Famous Marylanders Lunch, Talk and Tour

Saturday, October 27, 2012, 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm
RSVP today!  $40 per person (includes lunch)
Tour begins with lunch and a talk at the Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, 1600 Guilford Avenue

Greenmount Cemetery, image courtesy Jack Breihan

From elites like William and Henry Walters, Johns Hopkins, and Enoch Pratt, to extraordinary slaves like Patty Atavis, and even the infamous assassin John Wilkes Booth, the dead at Greenmount Cemetery tell a rich and fascinating story of the growth of Baltimore. For this tour, we’re pleased to be partnering with the Maryland Historical Society and Greenmount Cemetery tour guide Wayne Schaumburg.

The program will begin with lunch and a discussion of some of the Marylanders buried at Greenmount led by curators at the Maryland Historical Society using items in the Society’s collections. After lunch, we’ll drive over to the cemetery to join Baltimore historian and Greenmount guide Wayne Schaumburg for a tour of the cemetery, its ornate grave stones, and its notable inhabitants. Space is limited!

Behind the Scenes at New Cathedral Cemetery

Saturday, November 10, 2012, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm
RSVP today! $10 per person
Meet at the Cemetery’s main entrance  – 4300 Old Frederick Road, 21229

New Cathedral Cemetery, courtesy jomiwi/Flickr.

Covering 125 acres in West Baltimore and with its origins dating to St. Peter’s Kirkyard at Saratoga and Cathedral Streets in the 1770s, New Cathedral Cemetery is a historic gem that is surprisingly hidden. Among other things, it is the resting place of more Hall of Fame baseball players than any other cemetery in the country, including Orioles greats from the 1890s Ned Hanlon, Joe Kelley, and John McGraw. It is also the resting place of Baltimore mayors Solomon Hillen, Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr., and Clarence (du) Burns, entrepreneur and philanthropist Reginald F. Lewis, and Mother Mary Lange, founder of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first ever congregation of women religious of African descent. Charles Carroll of Carrollton was originally buried here until he was reinterred at Doughoregan, the family estate in Howard County, but the cemetery still claims at least two other Carroll family members: Charles Carroll of Homewood and Governor John Lee Carroll.

With three centuries of wonderful headstones and statuary, the cemetery is also rich with sculpture and art, and of course stories about Baltimore. Please join us and cemetery historian Susan Schmidt on this trip through Baltimore history as told through New Cathedral Cemetery.

Behind the Scenes Tour of the Old Town Firehouse

Which is older, Old Engine House No. 6 or the Baltimore City Fire Department? If you picked the firehouse you would be correct. Completed in 1853, this venerable fire station predates the Baltimore fire department by four years. It is located on Gay Street in the Jonestown neighborhood and was built not for Baltimore City but for the Oldtown Independent Fire Company. In its day, this fire company would fight battles with rival companies over who would have the honor of putting out a blaze, a practice that helped give Baltimore its notorious name, “Mobtown.” In addition to its age, the building boasts notable architecture, especially its 103-foot Italianate-Gothic tower that was copied from Giotto’s campanile in Florence, Italy.

On the inside, Engine House No. 6 was home to a steam engine named, appropriately, the “Deluge,” that weighed 8,600 pounds. During the great 1904 Fire, teams from the firehouse helped pump water from the Jones Falls to prevent the fire from jumping the river and destroying East Baltimore, and also operated as a sort of field hospital for injured firemen. In 1960 Baltimore’s Fire Board recommended razing the tower because it had outlived its usefulness. The tower and the station, however, hung on in active use until 1976 when the building closed as a municipal fire station and transformed into the Baltimore Fire Museum. Today the building is included on the list of landmarks that the city is evaluating with regard to use and ownership. Please join us on a tour this wonderful historic space and its rich collection of artifacts to learn about this fascinating part of Baltimore’s history.  We will have the honor of our tour being lead by Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Raymond C. O’Brocki who will share his research on the firehouse.

Tour Details

Baltimore City Fire Museum
416 N. Gay Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Thursday, August 9, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
$15 members | $25 non-members (wine & cheese will be served)
RSVP for this tour today!