Thanks to everyone who joined us last month for our West Baltimore Squares Photowalk & Tour organized in partnership with the Baltimore Sun’s DarkRoom. Photographers, locals and first-time visitors to Sowebo all had the chance to photograph local landmarks from Hollins Market to Franklin Square with a stop at the H.L. Mencken House on Union Square – where Will Cocks caught this nice shot of Mencken’s cigar box. Find more featured images from the photowalk at the Baltimore Sun DarkRoom blog.
Many people know that President Street Station has its roots in the Civil War, but few know that Civil War history can be found throughout the city, including many sites in West Baltimore. In fact, West Baltimore neighborhoods served a central role in the conflict– housing Union troops on their south to fight, caring for injured soldiers, and witnessing the many ways in which the conflict on the battlefield came home to the city 150 years ago. As the home to the B&O Railroad, West Baltimore supported the movement of troops by train (a key advantage for the Union) and protected the city from invasion by Confederate troops through a ring of camps, hospitals and fortifications in Carroll Park, on Baltimore Street, in Lafayette Square and more.
West Baltimore’s Civil War History by Bike
Update: Due to today’s rainy and snowy weather, we have rescheduled our tour to Saturday, November 5, 10:00 am. Please contact Eli Pousson at email@example.com or 301-204-3337 with any questions or concerns.
October 29, 2011, 10:00 am to 11:30 am
$10 for members & non-members, RSVP today!
This 90-minute bicycle tour starts and ends at the Mt. Clare Museum House rolling past rowhouses, parks, stables, and shops, scores of historic places grand and modest, where people lived and worked during the Civil War and its aftermath. We’ll learn about Confederate spies at Waverly Terrace in Franklin Square, take a look at the historic artifacts we recently dug up from the site of Lafayette Barracks, and trace the lives of immigrant workers who built the trains, bridges, and more that the Union military depended on at the Irish Shrine at Lemmon Street and the B&O Railroad Roundhouse. Please join us as we pedal through the history of the Civil War in West Baltimore and commemorate this nation-shaping event of 150 years ago.
Thanks to the support of Free Fall Baltimore at the end of the tour participants are welcome to take a free tour of the Mt. Clare Museum House. Mount Clare is a 1760 colonial Georgian home built by Charles Carroll and Maryland’s oldest house museum.
Connect with the Friends of West Baltimore Squares to learn more about heritage and community greening programs in West Baltimore neighborhoods!
This weekend the 2011 ROOTS Festival comes to the Highway to Nowhere in West Baltimore, and we are leading neighborhood walking tours as part of it. Please join us if you can. The festival is a series of music, arts and community events, some outdoor and some indoor, starting at Franklin and North Gilmor Streets (just west of Martin Luther King Boulevard). As part of our continuing work with the Friends of West Baltimore Squares partnership, we’ll be at the festival both Saturday & Sunday, June 25-26, sharing information on upcoming programs and offering a series of West Baltimore Walks through the historic parks and innovative new gardens to the north and south of the Highway to Nowhere.
Baltimore Heritage at the Alternate ROOTS Festival
Saturday & Sunday, June 25-26
West Baltimore Walks at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, & 3:00 pm
Meet at the corner of Franklin and Carey Streets at the festival.
The one-hour walking tours, led by Baltimore Heritage’s Eli Pousson, start from the “Community Bridge” at the corner of Franklin & Carey Streets. They will go through Harlem Park & Lafayette Square exploring schoolyard gardens and soaring historic churches, and through Franklin Square & Union Square stopping by the H.L. Mencken House and innovative vacant lot projects on Brice and Carey Streets.
The Friends of West Baltimore Squares is a new partnership-driven initiative connecting historic preservation, urban greening and neighborhood revitalization through the celebration of West Baltimore’s unique historic squares and parks. Working as a Partner in the Field promoting neighborhood revitalization in African American communities, I often discover parks, gardens, and vacant lots, some well loved and cared for and others not, just next door or across the street from the historic buildings that we’re fighting to save at Baltimore Heritage. The aspirations of gardeners in West Baltimore have much in common with our efforts to reuse buildings – like the Sellers Mansion on the southeast corner of Lafayette Square – and return activity to a neighborhood that struggles with disinvestment and concentrated poverty. The Friends of West Baltimore Squares reflects these common goals of supporting more livable and vital neighborhoods through a partnership between Baltimore Heritage, the Parks & People Foundation, and neighborhood residents around five historic parks to organize events, conduct outreach to residents and visitors, and advocate for the long-term vitality of West Baltimore’s parks and neighborhoods.
We launched this new effort in February 2011 working with neighborhood leaders in Franklin Square, Harlem Park, Lafayette Square, Perkins Square, and Union Square. These five parks are used by over a dozen West Baltimore neighborhoods which include many more pocket parks and community gardens. While these neighborhoods are distinct and diverse, they also share many common challenges – vacant and abandoned properties, and illegal dumping all come to mind – but also share common assets such as handsome historic rowhouses, generous green space, and the potential for transit-oriented community development around the new Red Line light rail route proposed to connect West & East Baltimore through downtown. We decided to focus initially on organizing public events to engage a broad cross-section of neighborhood residents and begin growing a network of contacts across the area. Our first event, the West Baltimore Squares Spring Walk & Celebration, at the end of April. The walk connected over 60 residents from the area to four of the major squares, and ended with a community BBQ at Lafayette Square.
We’re promoting our programs through neighborhood meetings, a growing e-mail list, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. This range of outreach efforts is essential to connect with the many young people and families who often do not participate in neighborhood organizations and also offers an opportunity to recognize the neighborhoods many real assets like the new Harlem Park School Community Garden. We’re launching a new tour program in early June at the West Baltimore Farmer’s Market that mixes interpretation of the area’s Civil War history in the 1860s, struggles with urban renewal in the 1960s, and innovative new approaches to urban forestry and sustainable stormwater management.
This is a new effort for Baltimore Heritage and we are excited about the opportunities to reach out and engage, not only with people who love old buildings but also with those who are working hard to create more sustainable historic neighborhoods through supporting parks and gardens. Through building up community around a shared commitment to sustainable and unique historic neighborhoods and connecting our efforts to the transit-oriented development, we see a bright future for the residents and neighborhoods around West Baltimore Squares.
The Friends of West Baltimore Squares is a new organization dedicated to the celebration of West Baltimore’s unique historic squares and parks through events, outreach and advocacy. Launched in February 2011 by Baltimore Heritage in partnership with the Parks & People Foundation, the Watershed 263 Council and neighborhood leaders in Franklin Square, Harlem Park, Lafayette Square, Perkins Square and Union Square, our goal is to support the expanded use and appreciation of historic parks, connect West Baltimore residents and leaders interested in urban greening and historic preservation, and offer fun new ways to explore West Baltimore neighborhoods.
Please stay connected with our new effort by visiting the Friends of West Baltimore Squares website, connecting with us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. If you are a resident of West Baltimore, interested in supporting the Friends of West Baltimore Squares as a volunteer, or interested in attending any of our fun upcoming events, please sign up for our e-mail list and keep an eye on our calendar. We have also started a small discussion list for anyone who’d like to contribute their own ideas to the project.
Finally, we invite everyone to join us for our inaugural West Baltimore Squares Spring Walk and Celebration on the evening of Saturday, April 30. We’ll walk from Union Square to Lafayette Square through five great historic parks ending with a celebration at Lafayette Square with light refreshments & music starting at 7:00 PM followed by a movie screening at 7:30 PM. We hope you can join us on April 30 for the start of this new exciting effort!