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Behind the Scenes Tour of the Hotel Brexton – Updated

Since 1881, the Hotel Brexton has lorded over Tyson Street and Park Avenue in Mount Vernon and will do so again after a recent and thorough restoration.  Please join architect Donald Kann and members of the RWN redevelopment team on a tour of this wonderfully restored building on the eve of its reopening (literally: the hotel opens to the public the morning after our tour).

Tour Information – Updated

Update- The tour of the Hotel Brexton has been rescheduled for Wednesday, February 17.  Tour registrants should look for an e-mail with an update on whether they are set for the 5:30 PM or the 6:30 PM tour.

Date:     Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Time:     5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Place:    Brexton Hotel, 868 Park Avenue
Park on the Street
Cost:      $10

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Baltimore Building of the Week: Baltimore’s Columnar Monuments

This week’s Baltimore Building of the Week is not, in fact, a building. Instead, it is three of Baltimore’s notable “Columnar Monuments.” Both the Battle Monument and Mount Vernon’s Washington Monument have also been featured on the Monument City website. Visitors can take a tour of the Shot Tower’s ground floor exhibit, sound and light show, and informational video are available with appointment at 10:30 AM on Saturday or Sunday. The Washington Monument is open for visitors Wednesday to Friday 10 AM to 4 PM and Saturday and Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM up until Memorial Day.

Battle Monument, Image courtesy Jack Breihan
Battle Monument, Image courtesy Jack Breihan

Completed during the 1820s, two of these towering structures established Baltimore’s distinction as “the Monumental City.” Maximilian Godefroy’s Battle Monument, depicted on the City flag, commemorated the Defenders who died beating off the British attack in 1814. It combines Egyptian and Roman themes, including a giant set of fasces. A gigantic Roman Doric column, Robert Mills’ Washington Monument portrays the Father of Our Country, dressed in a toga, performing what its builders considered his most heroic act. (What was it? answer next week!) The contemporary Phoenix Shot Tower was a monument to Baltimore’s growing industrial sector; it manufactured lead shot for the Chesapeake Bay duck-hunting industry.

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Behind the Scenes Tour of the First and Franklin Presbyterian Church

Image courtesy Baltimore Sun

We have a rare opportunity to climb up into the scaffolding inside one of the great interior historic spaces in Baltimore: the First and Franklin Presbyterian Church in Mount Vernon.  The church is in the midst of renovations, and we have a chance to see the historic building up close and up high before the scaffolding comes down with Rev. Dr. Alison Halsey, the church’s pastor and our tour guide.

The renovations are being undertaken by the architecture firm of Murphy and Dittenhafer.  Principal architect Michael Murphy, who was overseeing the work, passed away unexpectedly last week–an enormous loss for preservation and architecture in Baltimore.  We are holding this tour as a tribute to Mr. Murphy and his contributions to Baltimore.

Tour Information

Date:   Sunday, February 21, 2010
Time:   2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Place:   First and Franklin Church, 210 West Madison Street at the corner of Park Avenue
Meet at the church’s “Backus House,” on Madison Avenue next to the church
Park on the Street
Cost:    $10
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Behind the Scenes Tour of McClain Wiesand Custom Built Furniture

In New York, Chicago and San Francisco, the custom built decorative art pieces created by Baltimore’s own McClain Wiesand studio are featured for their beauty and careful craftsmanship. This tour offers a “twofer”: a tour of the McClain Wiesand workshop and an open house of the owner’s fabulously renovated apartments (Moroccan room and all) above his shop in historic Mount Vernon.

Tour Information

Date: Wednesday April 7, 2010
Time: 5:30 to 6:00 p.m. — Wine and Cheese
6:00 to 7:00 p.m. — Tour
Place: McClain Wiesand Custom Built Furniture
1013 Cathedral Street (Baltimore, MD 21201)
Cost: $15 (includes wine and cheese reception)

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Baltimore Building of the Week: Gothic Revival Churches

This week’s Baltimore Building of the Week from Dr. John Breihan are two Gothic Revival churches from architect Robert Cary Long, Jr.– the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church and New Unity Church Ministries, historically known as as the Franklin Street Presbyterian Church.

St.Alphonsus/Image courtesy Jack Breihan

At the same time as he was designing Greek Revival temples for immigrant Catholic and Jewish worshipers, the eclectic architect Robert Cary Long, Jr., also worked in the Gothic Revival. At St. Alphonsus Catholic Church (1845) and the Franklin Street Presbyterian Church (1847 – now New Unity Church Ministries), Long’s Gothic designs were more assured than Godefroy’s seminary chapel four decades earlier. St. Alphonsus, intended for Baltimore’s German Catholics, was based on medieval German hall churches; Franklin Street Presbyterian on Tudor-era architecture in England. In both cases, the church walls were originally coated in gray stucco intended to look like stone. Removing the stucco reveals pleasing pastel bricks, but also exposes them to deterioration that may threaten the long-term integrity of these fine churches.

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