Vacant rowhouses are a significant challenge for many of Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods. After decades of abandonment and neglect, demolition at some point looks like the only option. However, demolition doesn’t have to mean a bulldozer. Deconstruction can take a house apart, floorboard by floorboard, joist by joist, and brick by brick. Instead of sending tons of debris to a landfill, deconstruction recycles these materials by providing them brick and lumber to contractors, building supply firms and even homeowners. With hundreds of distressed rowhouses demolished each year in Baltimore, deconstruction offers the opportunity to reclaim historic materials that are all too often wasted and forgotten.
On December 13, Baltimore Heritage is offering an unusual behind the scenes look at deconstruction in process thanks to Details Deconstruction – a new social enterprise business started by Humanim to promote workforce development. On a block of East Eager Street, a team of deconstruction professionals and trainees (almost all East Baltimore residents) are undertaking a pilot project to show how a block of vacant rowhouse can still:
- provide recycled bricks and lumber for new construction or restoration projects,
- offer education and training opportunities for Baltimore residents, and
- help to tell the stories behind vacant houses in the Milton-Montford neighborhood.
Over the past several months, Mr. Max Pollock from Details Deconstruction has been capturing the process of deconstruction on the Baltimore Brick by Brick blog. In compelling photos and writing, Max has profiled crew members and documented items left behind by former residents in his “Friday Finds” series. In his own time, Max collects historic bricks – making him the perfect tour guide for telling the story of how even Baltimore’s most distressed brick rowhouses can still help the city build a stronger future.