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Francis Scott Key Monument splashed with red paint and spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem” Graffiti on Eutaw Place sculpture highlights Key's history as a slaveholder

This morning, we learned that the Francis Scott Key Monument at Eutaw Place was splashed with red paint over night and the stone pedestal at the center of the monument was spray painted with the words “Racist Anthem.” The monument by French sculptor Marius Jean Antonin Mercié shows Key standing in a marble rowboat next to a seated bronze sailor. The statue was dedicated on May 15, 1911, and restored in 1999 after a major fundraising campaign by local residents. You can see more photographs of the Key Monument and the graffiti in our Flickr album.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The spray painted graffiti on the east side of the stone curb surrounding the monument fountain included “Blood on his hands,” “Racist Anthem,” “Fuck FSK,” and “Hater U Just Mad.” On the pavement in front of the monument was written “Slave Owner” and one of the lesser-known stanzas that make up Key’s Star-Spangled Banner:

“No refuge could save, Hireling or slave,
From terror of flight, Or gloom of grave”

The words are a reference to the black men who escaped from slavery in Maryland and Virginia to join the British in their fight against the United States government during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key’s legacy as a slave holder was the subject of a 2016 post from Smithsonian Magazine and a 2014 biography. As a member of the Maryland State Colonization Society, Key also promoted the removal of free black people from Maryland to a colony in present-day Liberia.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks was notified about the condition of the monument early this morning and reached out to the Baltimore City Police Department, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, and other city agencies to file a police report and consider next steps. We have also reached out to the Bolton Hill Architectural Review Committee to alert neighbors to the situation and to help monitor the monument. CHAP and city agencies are working to have the paint and graffiti removed by an art conservator as quickly as possible.

Read more about the Key Monument

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2017 September 13.

Civil Rights Landmarks: A Preview of the Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum on Eutaw Place

From 1935 until her retirement in 1970, Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson was president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP and for much of this time her home on Eutaw Place was a hub of civil rights organizing and activism. Dr. Gabriel Tenabe from Morgan State will lead us on a tour of this wonderfully restored house and share some civil rights history of Jackson and her contemporaries as Morgan State readies for its opening as a civil rights museum soon.

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Baltimore’s Old House Stories: Missing Baseboards and a Bolton Hill Brownstone

Thanks to Margaret De Arcangelis, Education & Outreach Director with Preservation Maryland for sharing the story of her historic Bolton Hill rowhouse and the adventure of starting an exciting restoration project.

Margaret's Old House

I came across a tweet the other day and could not help but smile: “It’s funny what makes you happy as a home owner.  I have baseboards.  Yeah!!! J”

As someone who has always enjoyed visiting old houses and loves learning about architecture, I always thought baseboards were great. It was not until this summer, however, when my husband and I bought our first house, that I truly appreciated the value of a well-placed baseboard. This appreciation is largely due to the fact that some of our baseboards, plaster, banisters and light fixtures are missing and I can only dream of the day when they will all be back in place.

Christopher and I did not buy a move-in ready starter house like many people do.  Instead Chris has lovingly followed me into what may be my most hare-brained (but wonderful!) idea yet.  We bought a true fixer-upper – an 1886 brownstone in Bolton Hill that needs more repair work than I have  space to list in this short post.  Like so many of the houses in that neighborhood, a prior owner subdivided the house into apartments leaving vestiges of long abandoned kitchens and bathrooms on each floor. Numerous walls were damaged when temporary walls were built and later torn down. Unlike many others rowhouses in Bolton Hill, however, our house remained in the hands of just one family from the 1880s to the 1950s (thank you MD Land Records for providing that fun fact!) and much of the original detail remains intact down to the stylish patterned parquet floors. Much of wood work including our 45 wood windows is covered by only one or two coats of paint and, despite a few missing pieces, the original stained glass transoms are in place and can be repaired.

After searching for the right house for ten months, I knew this was the perfect house for us the first time I saw it. There are so many beautiful details throughout the house that would be impossible or at least cost prohibitive for us to have in any other house. Some days the house does present challenges. The first few times it rained we found a new leak each time. We discovered that the duct tape on one of the sewer lines in the basement was not covering up a small crack in the pipe, but instead was put there to cover the ten inch by two-inch gouge in the pipe. We learned that sometimes the scope of a project changes midway through due to unforeseen circumstances, which may mean you need to remove a 100-year-old piece of Lincrusta from the wall so the plumbers can run new water lines. No matter what the new issue is with our house, all of those feelings of frustration go away each time I go to unlock the front door and am reminded how lucky I am to own such a beautiful old house.

We’re looking for more “old house stories” along with resources, tips and tricks you can share with other old house owners in Baltimore. Join the conversation on Facebook with Baltimore’s New Old House Forum or get in touch with Eli Pousson at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org

Baltimore meets Florence! Enjoy Italian-inspired Desserts and Architecture by Bike on June 15

Have you ever seen a handsome building in Baltimore and swear that you had seen it before? Maybe camping with a tent from Survival Cooking around Florence, Italy? Join Dr. Ralph Brown for our fun bike tour around Baltimore and you’ll swear you are back in Florence—even for just a few hours. Florence has Michelangelo’s David, the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Medici, the Arno River spanned by the Ponte Vecchio and great gelato. Baltimore has the Bromo Seltzer Tower, the Jones Falls and, of course, our own tasty gelatos in Little Italy.

We’ll re-discover the sights, sounds and tastes of the great Renaissance city of Baltimore has while learning something new about iced desserts and Baltimore’s key role in their history.