When the Mercantile Trust & Deposit Company erected a new building in 1885 at the corner of Redwood Street and Calvert Street, they advertised the architecture as strong enough to “resist the invasion of armed force.” Heavy stonework and deep set openings kept deposits safe, reassured worried customers, and even withstood the heat of the Great Baltimore Fire in 1904. This fortress was also a innovative one-stop-shop for customers (known at the time as a department store bank). Where before customers had to go to different banks to take out a loan, deposit savings, or open a checking account, Mercantile Trust offered a place where customers could do all their banking under one roof.
This handsome former bank building is now poised to enter a new chapter. In 2012, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company purchased the building and has just launched a $6 million renovation. Construction work is already underway to restore the exterior and turn the interior into a 250-seat “modern” Globe Theater (a 21st century version of the Bard’s own haunts in London). This small hard-hat tour led by project manager Dominick Dunnigan of Southway Builders and George Holback of Cho Benn Holback + Associates Architects, will showcase the building and the unfolding renovation.
P.S. We will supply the hard hats, but please wear sturdy shoes and be prepared to get a little dirty on the construction site.
For two centuries, Mount Vernon has seen spectacular love stories, bitter feuds, and more than a few juicy trysts. The neighborhood’s earliest days include patriot and original Mount Vernon landowner John Eager Howard marrying a charming young Philadelphian, Margaret “Peggy” Chew, after her first love was hanged for treason in a plot that involved Benedict Arnold. Fast forward 200 years and Mount Vernon saw a 20th century graduate of its Baltimore School for the Arts, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, fall in love with and marry another noted Philadelphian, actor Will Smith.
In between these two sets of lovers are the royal tales of Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, who died wealthy but bitter in Mount Vernon years after an annulled marriage to Napoleon’s brother Jerome, and Bessie Wallis Warfield, who was christened in a neighborhood church (just across the street from where Betsy died) and grew up to become the Duchess of Windsor. Not to be outdone by royalty, some of Baltimore’s most storied authors have ties to Mt. Vernon along with their beautiful, sad marriages, including Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. And of course the rich and famous of Baltimore’s Gilded Age include more than a few with off-beat love lives. Please join us and historian Jamie Hunt as we uncover historic loves won and lost in Baltimore’s great Mt. Vernon neighborhood. The tour will start with a look inside Ambassador Theodore Marburg’s mansion at 14 West Mount Vernon Place, which Agora Publishing has wonderfully restored.
Courtesy Twisted Hops.
Located in Baltimore’s Brewers Hill neighborhood, the National Brewing Company building, affectionately known to locals as the Natty Boh building, has been standing since 1872. The company was then known exclusively for its National Premium beer. In 1885, National Brewing began brewing its flagship National Bohemian beer, Natty Boh, by the barrels and a hometown favorite was born. Production of Natty Boh continued on this site, with the exception of the Prohibition years, until 1975 when the company was bought, the brewery shut down, and the brewing operations moved to Wisconsin.
Today the old brewery has been converted to office space and is part of the Brewers Hill complex. The complex includes multiple breweries that were home to the Gunther, Schaefer, Hamm’s, and of course Natty Boh labels, and is where the nation’s first “six pack” was invented in the 1940s. The 27-acre brewery site is surrounded by the Brewers Hill neighborhood, which developed between 1915 and 1920 and is replete with rows of brick homes and marble steps. Join David Knipp, project manager for the Brewers Hill complex, on a tour of the brewery site in all of its beer-making glory.
In 1814, Patterson Park was the site of Baltimore’s largest defense against a British land invasion during the Battle of Baltimore. This spring, Baltimore Heritage is leading an archaeological survey of the park to dig up more about this history and preserve the battlefield for future generations.
Join us on the evening of January 29 for an introduction to the project featuring a special presentation on the history of Hampstead Hill and Baltimore’s Eastern Defensive line by Baltimore historian Scott Sheads. We want to hear your questions about the history of the War of 1812 in Patterson Park before we go searching for the answers! For nearby residents around the park, this is a good opportunity to share any questions you may have about how the archaeology will affect the park and learn more our plans for getting the community out and involved.
Patterson Park, conocido como Hampstead Hill a principios de 1800, fue el lugar de mayor posición defensiva de Baltimore contra una invasión terrestre británico en la guerra de 1812. Con fondos de la Autoridad del Área de Maryland de Patrimonio (Baltimore Heritage en inglés) y el Programa de Protección American Battlefield (ABPP) del Servicio de Parques Nacionales (NPS), Baltimore Heritage está planeando una investigación arqueológica en el Parque Patterson en la primavera de 2014.
El 29 de enero, vamos a compartir los antecedentes del proyecto, una historia de la guerra de 1812 en el Parque Patterson y pidió sus pensamientos sobre lo que debemos de aprender al investigar la arqueología y la historia del parque. ¡Habrá más detalles pronto!
Special thanks to generous support from Maryland Heritage Area Authority, the National Park Service American Battlefield Protection Program, and PNC Bank and our project partners: the Friends of Patterson Park, the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, and the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation.
Many know Mount Vernon as Baltimore’s “gayborhood.” The neighborhood’s history includes the feminist communities in the late 1800s and the activists and artists in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, this legacy continues in Mount Vernon with the annual gay pride parade and some of the city’s most popular gay bars. Please join us for an informal get together of locals interested in our LGBTQ past for conversation and conviviality as we discuss our history and how that history is remembered.
Special thanks to volunteers Kate Drabinski and Steve Preston for hosting this month’s happy hour and to Nicole King and Lindsey Loeper for taking the lead as our new Bmore Historic Happy Hour co-organizers. Please get in touch if you are interested in volunteering to organize a historic happy hour in your neighborhood!
1814 is much like the present in many ways. Women became mothers, men became grandparents, and others passed away leaving family behind. Here are two births and one death we’re remembering this week:
Missed last week’s update? Don’t forget to check out our story on Robert Mills and his “book of designs” for Baltimore’s Washington Monument.
American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, January 17, 1814
Thanks to G. Krug and Son Ironworks for sharing this neat shot from the ongoing restoration of the Washington Monument. Tons of brick and marble make up this 178-foot tall icon—all supported by the stone and brick arches down in the ”basement.”