Anchored by the Phoenix Shot Tower, Historic Jonestown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and includes often overlooked landmarks. In addition to going inside the Shot Tower, on this tour you’ll learn about the city’s oldest religious building (Friends Meeting House) and the third oldest synagogue in the country (Lloyd Street Synagogue), and the longest-lived signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll. The Shot Tower, the tallest structure in the United States until 1846, stands out in Baltimore’s skyline as a reminder of our early industrial heritage and is a must-see for visitors and locals alike!
Our Monumental City tours are guided walks exploring iconic Baltimore landmarks in Downtown, Jonestown, Mount Vernon and Federal Hill on the first four Sundays of every month, excluding holiday weekends. Our Jonestown tour is organized in partnership with Carroll Museums, Inc.
From the restoration of Roland Park’s historic trolley stop to the conversion of City Garage into 60,000 square feet of funky makerspace, our 2016 historic preservation awards showcase the best historic preservation projects of the year and the people behind them. Please join us on June 16 at Baltimore’s Green Street Academy to mix, mingle, and be inspired by the great work happening in the city!
Over the next two months, we’ve also lined up a number of fantastic tours. On June 22, our tour of St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church tells the story of the evolution of this 175-year-old institution and its deep commitment to charitable work. On June 26, our Florence Meets Baltimore by Bike tour will transport you to the Piazza della Signoria, the Ponte Vecchio, the Tempio Maggiore, the Ospedalia Deli Innocenti, the Carrara quarries, and take in frozen deserts along the way… all without leaving Baltimore.
In July, we have a special treat: the chance to climb to the top of the scaffolding now filling the interior of the Parkway Theater for an up-close view of the ceiling and a great opportunity to learn what’s going on as the Maryland Film Festival restores this 1915 movie house.
Finally, don’t forget that this Sunday, and almost every Sunday until Thanksgiving, our volunteer-led Monumental City Tours will take you on one-hour jaunts to learn more about Baltimore: Jonestown and the Shot Tower, Landmarks and Lions Downtown, Mount Vernon and the Washington Monument, and the Patterson Park Observatory.
For the past two years, Baltimore Housing has worked to find developers for unique vacant properties through their Vacants to Value Surplus Sale. In 2015, Baltimore Housing listed 18 properties for development including historic school buildings, firehouses, and rowhouses located in neighborhoods across the city.
Earlier this week, we learned that the city has issued awards for seven properties including the former Druid Health Center/Home of the Friendless in Marble Hill and the Upton Mansion. In a press release, Deputy Commissioner of Land Resources Julia Day praised the variety and care the city saw from the selected developers: “From rental and market rate housing projects to a music & arts complex for youth and studio space aimed at Baltimore’s budding music scene – the applications were well thought out and sure to enhance our City assets.”
There is plenty of work ahead for the developers putting these vacant historic buildings back into use but the announcement is still encouraging news. The properties and developers include:
2200 block of E. Biddle Street awarded to Cross Street Partners, City Life Builders, and Chesapeake Habitat for Humanity (seven row houses in the Middle East neighborhood)
1401 E. Biddle Street awarded to Redbrick LMD (a former charter school connected to the Madison Square Recreation Center in the Gay Street neighborhood)
1313 Druid Hill Avenue awarded to The Aziz Group (the former Home of the Friendless/Druid Health Center in Upton)
24 N. High Street awarded to Leon & Dorothy Wigglesworth (a commercial storefront in the Jonestown neighborhood)
811 W. Lanvale Street awarded to C & A, Inc. (the former Upton Mansion in the Upton neighborhood)
Baltimore Housing is encouraging developers interested in any of the remaining 2015 surplus properties to send in an unsolicited bid by March 31, 2016. These remaining properties include:
800 block of Edmondson Avenue
800 block of Harlem Avenue
3101 Presbury Street
4701 Yellowwood Road
4800 block of Pimlico Road
5002 Frederick Avenue
5837 Belair Road
707-713 E. 34th Street
1315–1327 Division Street (Former Public School 103)
1500-1600 blocks of Edmondson Avenue
1749-1757 Gorsuch Avenue (Former Engine Company No. 33)
2950-2966 Mosher Street
You can find more information about any of these properties from Vacants to Value or contact Baltimore Housing at 410-396-4111. To help encourage the development of these buildings, we created a new map highlighting auctions, real estate listings, and development opportunities in Baltimore City. Please take a look at the opportunity map and get in touch with your thoughts on how we can keep improving this new resource.
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.
Looking for a fun activity on a Sunday morning? Friends and family coming to town and you’d like to show off the best of Baltimore? Join us for a Monumental City tour!
We are expanding our Looking Up Downtown tours at the Baltimore Farmer’s Market walking tours into a new tour series highlighting the history and architecture of four iconic Baltimore landmarks & neighborhoods almost every Sunday morning from April to November.
First Sunday – Downtown Landmarks and Lions
Come with us to find a piece of the Berlin Wall, a War of 1812 cannon ball mounted on a Conestoga wagon hitch, and over a hundred lions looking down at you from the tops of Baltimore’s buildings.
Second Sunday – Jonestown and the Shot Tower
Walk with us just a few blocks east of the Baltimore Farmer’s Market to explore one of the oldest neighborhood’s in the city and get inside the famed Phoenix Shot Tower—the tallest structure in the United States until 1846.
Third Sunday – Mount Vernon and the Washington Monument
Take a short stroll around Mount Vernon Place to hear the stories of local residents including the owners of the B&O Railroad, the founders of the Walters Art Museum, and the wealthy owners of Mercantile Bank. End the tour with a climb up the newly renovated 200-year old Washington Monument! This tour begins on July 19.
Fourth Sunday – Battle of Baltimore and the Patterson Park Observatory
Climb the stairs of the Patterson Park Observatory and enjoy an unparalleled panoramic view revealing the fortifications where Baltimore defeated the British during the War of 1812, the home of the original butcher on Butcher’s Hill, and Patterson Park’s rich history from the early 19th century up through the present day.
We hope you can come out and join us for all four tours this year. Find more details or register on our events calendar.