Tag: Upton

“Bringing Billie Back”: Lecture with James Earl Reid, Sculptor of the Billie Holiday Monument

Come out for a featured lecture by James Earl Reid, sculptor, designer, and creator of the Billie Holiday Monument on Sunday, October 28. This event will feature live musical illustrations by Songstress Larzine as Billie Holiday, accompanied by the Phill Butts Combo. She will perform “God Bless the Child”, “Lady Sings the Blues”, “Strange Fruit”, and “Hush Now Don’t Explain”.

Baltimore’s “Billie Holiday Monument” was researched in 2014 by journalist William Merritt Pleasant IV. He discovered that this world-class monument to “Billie Holiday” is the only monument ever dedicated to our world renowned jazz singer. Since the re-dedication of the Billie Holiday Monument, the monument has deteriorated. In early November, the entire structure will be removed for a major overhaul. We are saying goodbye now, but we are “Bringing Billie Back!”

In closing Musicians, Dancers, Visual Artists, Singers, Poets and Speakers are welcome to perform in honor of the historical life, legend, and legacy of Billie Holiday.

Supported by Maryland Humanities.

Updated: Home of the Friendless up for auction rescheduled for Thursday, May 3

Update – April 13, 2018: The March 8 auction was cancelled. The auction was rescheduled for Thursday, May 3 at 12:00 p.m.

The former Home of the Friendless, an 1870 orphanage located at 1313 Druid Hill Avenue in Upton, is up for sale in a foreclosure auction scheduled for Thursday, May 3 at 12:00 p.m. Two years ago, Baltimore Housing awarded the building to local developer AZ Group through the Vacants to Value Surplus Property Sale. Unfortunately, while the building was approved for state historic tax credits last year, the plan to convert the 13,300-square-foot building into seventeen apartments never found the financing required for rehabilitation work to begin.

Home of the Friendless/Druid Health Center. Baltimore Heritage (CC0)

With this new sale, we’re hoping the building finds a new developer that recognizes the importance of this West Baltimore landmark and find a way to bring it back to life. Learn more about the auction by Melnick Auctioneers or see photographs of the Home of the Friendless on Flickr.

Home of the Friendless Property Information:

  • Address: 1313 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217
  • Lot size: 6,825 square feet
  • Interior size: 13,300 square feet
  • Zoning: Row House Residential District (R-8)

You can read about the history of the building in the National Register landmark nomination (PDF) by Fred Shoken or our brief Explore Baltimore Heritage story.

Two park benches facing a cast-iron fountain in the middle of a small planting bed.
Henry Highland Garnet Park with the Home of the Friendless in the background. Baltimore Heritage (CC0)

Project CORE shares plan for the demolition of 149 vacant buildings in 2017

The Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) recently shared their plans to demolish a second round of vacant buildings under the Project CORE program. Since Project CORE (short for Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise) began last January, the program has supported the demolition around three hundred and seventy-five properties and granted around sixteen million in funding for community development projects. We may not find a new use for every vacant building in Baltimore but we want you to know what buildings Project CORE is tearing down and how can you share your comments.

613 S. Monroe Street, Baltimore

In the second year of Project CORE (known as Phase II), the state and Baltimore City are seeking to demolish one hundred and forty-nine buildings (grouped into thirty-eight “demolition clusters”). You can browse the list of demolition clusters in our open Google Sheet or with our interactive map. You can also see photographs of each demolition cluster on Flickr. You can compare this year’s properties to the list we shared last April before the first round of demolition.

1138 Mosher Street, Baltimore

If you look at our sheet, you can see demolition clusters in fifteen different neighborhoods. The largest number of clusters are in West Baltimore neighborhoods including Sandtown-Winchester, Upton, and Harlem Park (all part of the Old West Baltimore Historic District). In East Baltimore, affected neighborhoods include Broadway East, East Baltimore Midway, and Johnston Square. The vacant buildings are a mix of different ages, styles, and sizes. They include the one remaining building from the Alma Manufacturing Company; small, two-story alley houses on Mosher Street; early worker cottages on Lanvale Street; a distressed shingle-sided home in Arlington; and an unusual brick house on Franklintown Road.


Although DHCD administers Project CORE, Baltimore Housing selected these demolition clusters for the state. Last year, Baltimore Housing staff met with community groups and shared possible demolition clusters with residents. They also worked with the Baltimore City Department of Planning to collect feedback from residents on their priorities for demolition and community greening as part of the city’s new Green Network Plan.

The state’s preservation review process (commonly known as “Section 106”) gives Baltimore residents, preservation advocates, and community groups another opportunity to share comments or concerns on the proposed demolitions before the state can award funding to demolition contractors.

If you lead community organization affected by this program, we hope you can share any comments with DHCD by contacting Melissa Archer, Project Manager at melissa.archer2@maryland.gov.

We also want to hear your thoughts on Project CORE and these buildings. If we can find a new use for a vacant building, we might be able to avoid a demolition. Your feedback helps us continue to push for reinvestment in historic communities. You can share comments online or contact our director Johns Hopkins at hopkins@baltimoreheritage.org or 410-332-9992.

Finally, we want you to take a look at our new online resource for residents dealing with vacant buildings: Vacant Buildings 101. We are working with the Community Law Center to host workshops and publish an online guide to taking action on vacant buildings in your neighborhood. This program is supported by funding from Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust through the Heritage Fund. Please take a look, share your comments, or sign up to join us at our next Vacant Buildings 101 workshop on March 25.

2858–2860 W. Lanvale Street, Baltimore, 21216

Fire devastates Public School 103 in Upton

Early this afternoon we got a call from a neighbor in Upton’s Marble Hill, alerting us that Public School 103, Thurgood Marshall’s elementary school, was on fire. The Baltimore City Fire Department is still working to contain the fire but the damage is clearly devastating. The roof is destroyed across large portions of the building and the interior has suffered terrible damage.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.

Public School 103 was built on Division Street in 1877. The school changed from serving white to black students in 1910 when it was first used for students from nearby Public School No. 112. In March 1911, the school was officially designated Public School 103. Thurgood Marshall began attending the school just three years later and continued as a student up through 8th grade in 1921. Today, many Baltimoreans remember it as the “Division Street School” or Henry Highland Garnet Elementary School. After the school closed in the early 1970s, the Upton Planning Committee moved in. The Upton Planning Committee continued to use the structure for arts and cultural programs and community meetings up until they vacated the building in the 1990s.

While the building had stood vacant for many years, Baltimore City and the Baltimore National Heritage Area had been working to promote the reuse and rehabilitation of the building. Building on the work of a Mayoral Commission established in 2008, the Heritage Area led efforts to repair the building’s roof and remove asbestos. Baltimore Housing solicited development proposals for the building last year as part of the Vacants to Value surplus surplus property sale.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.


Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, 2016 April 6.

Read more about today’s fire from the Baltimore Sun or read the PS 103 Commission reports for more on the history of the building. We are will continue working with the Baltimore National Heritage Area, Upton residents, and supporters of Baltimore’s Civil Rights heritage to preserve Public School 103 and recover from this difficult setback.

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