Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? What better way to celebrate than by visiting the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center located in the historic 1916 Baltimore Gas and Electric Company building on Lexington Street? We hope you can join us.
Maryland Women’s Heritage Center | 39 W. Lexington Street (corner of Lexington & Liberty Sts.), Baltimore, MD 21201
Saturday, March 31st | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
$10 members | $20 non-members
RSVP for the tour today!
Edith Houghton Hooker
The Maryland Women’s History Center is the first comprehensive state-based women’s history center and museum of its kind in the nation. For our tour, a docent from the Center will guide us through exhibits on Maryland women “firsts,” unsung heroines, and the suffrage movement in Maryland. The Center’s location at the BG&E building is more than fitting. In the early 1900s, a suffrage pioneer named Edith Houghton Hooker staged a major rally for giving women the vote outside the building at Lexington and Liberty Streets. Ms. Hooker had come from Buffalo to Baltimore as one of the first women accepted into the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 1909, she established the Just Government League of Maryland, a local affiliate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and edited and published Maryland Suffrage News from 1912 through the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. In addition to the history of the suffrage movement, we will be among the first to see the Center’s newest exhibit on Maryland women in science and technology.
Howard & Lexington, November 1966, image courtesy the Maryland Historical Society
This morning the Board of Estimates voted to extend the city’s land disposition agreement with Lexington Square Partners for the development of the Superblock for another year. We’ve spent much of 2011 pushing the city to recognize the importance of the West Side’s rich social and architectural history as an asset to the neighborhood’s revitalization. The development team has now acknowledged the landmark sit-in at Read’s Drug Store with a proposal to retain the exterior walls of the 1934 building and the City has approved a plan with funding to stabilize this publicly-owned building. We opposed the extension granted by the Board of Estimates this morning because we believe the development plan continues to call for the demolition of too many historic buildings. The West Side’s unique heritage should be the foundation for building a more vibrant and livable neighborhood so we are renewing our efforts to share the stories of the West Side with people from across the city.
For over two hundred years this neighborhood has been a center of activity to entrepreneurs and merchants of all kinds, suffragists and civil rights protestors, and much more. With all of these diverse stories to tell, we’re bringing back last winter’s Why the West Side Matters series here on our website and offering a new set of lunch time walking tours on the second Wednesday of each month from January through April 2012.
- January 11 — Meet at Lexington Market (Eutaw & Lexington Streets)
- February 8 — Meet at Pratt Library Central Branch (Cathedral Street between Franklin & Mulberry Streets)
- March 14 — Meet at Lexington Market (Paca & Lexington Streets)
- April 11 — Meet at Charles Center (Center Plaza)
Each unique 1-hour tour will start at 12:30 pm visiting places like Pascault Row, G. Krug & Son Iron Works, the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center, and much more. Come for one tour or come for them all and please make sure to join our e-mail list or connect with us on Facebook for reminders about these and other upcoming programs.
The Maryland Women’s Heritage Center at 39 West Lexington Street is located on the first floor of the historic Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Building in a store-front gallery and exhibit space donated to the Center by David Hillman, CEO of Southern Management Corporation. Originally completed in 1916, the former Baltimore Gas & Electric Company headquarters building was carefully preserved and restored as a mixed-use development including apartments and offices. Its 22 stories rise in majestic neoclassical style, capped by large, arched windows on the top two floors. At the fourth floor, the façade is graced by allegorical figures or goddesses representing Knowledge, Light, Heat, and Power.
The corner of Lexington and Liberty Streets is particularly important in the history of the Maryland suffrage movement as the location of a huge open air rally organized by Edith Houghton Hooker (1879-1949). A Buffalo native, Hooker arrived in Baltimore as one of the first women accepted into the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1909, she established the Just Government League of Maryland, a local affiliate of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and edited and published Maryland Suffrage News from 1912 through the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
From its beginning as the Maryland Women’s History Project in 1980, the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center has worked to preserve the past, understand the present, and shape the future by recognizing and sharing the experiences and contributions of Maryland women and girls of diverse backgrounds and regions. Their exhibits honor Maryland’s historical and contemporary renowned women and girls in the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, as well as highlighting those “Unsung Heroines” who have shaped their own families and communities. The Center serves as a resource with historical information on Maryland women and a gathering place to hold workshops, forums, and other special events.
Our Why the West Side Matters series is produced with the assistance of Baltimore Heritage volunteer Sally Otto. Read our last post in the series on 200 Years of Iron Work at G. Krug & Son.
G. Krug and Son, now including daughters as well as sons, opened on Saratoga Street in 1810. One of Baltimore’s oldest businesses and the nation’s oldest continuously operating blacksmith’s shop, G. Krug has been an anchor on the West Side of Downtown for over over 200 years employing hundreds of skilled workers, serving as a retail destination for artistic wrought iron work, and reflecting the unique character of historic businesses on the West Side. G. Krug and Sons is one of the many reasons why the West Side matters to the people of Baltimore.
Originally operated as the blacksmith shop of Augustus Scwanka, Gustav Krug joined the business in 1848, working his way up to journeyman, foreman, partner and then purchased the shop in 1871. At one point, the shop supported 100 artisans and could proudly boast that virtually every building in Baltimore contained something made in the shop, even if that something was only a nail. The business has remained in the skilled hands of his descendants ever since maintaining a dedication to fine craftsmanship G. Krug & Son is one of the few companies left in Baltimore that can claim their ancestors helped in building Baltimore.
The company remains dedicated to providing their customers with ironwork that is beautiful, durable and represents a value that will stand the test of time. You can view a great gallery of a few of their past projects on their website or take a look at photos from a Behind the Scenes Tour of the shop back in 2009. Today the company is run by 5th generation Krugs, Peter and Stephen, who operate the business with the same dedication to craftsmanship and customer satisfaction as their forefathers. Today, Stephen’s daughter Alexandra, and Peter’s son David work in the company and are already skilled in their family’s trade.
Our Why the West Side Matters series is produced with the assistance of Baltimore Heritage volunteer Sally Otto. Read our first post in the series on Read’s Drug Store and Baltimore’s Civil Rights Heritage.
Join Baltimore Heritage & the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture on the evening of February 9 for “Preserving Baltimore’s Civil Rights Heritage,” a panel discussion and public forum from 7:00 to 8:30 PM moderated & hosted by Dr. David Terry, executive director of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum. Our panelists include Dr. Gabriel Tenabe (Morgan State University) on restoring the home of long-time Baltimore NAACP President Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson, Ms. Tanya Bowers (National Trust for Historic Preservation) on the proposed National Civil Rights Heritage Trail, and Mr. Bill Pencek on the adaptive reuse of PS 103. Finally, we’ll hear the story of the Read’s Drug Store sit-in from Dr. Helena Hicks who, as a freshman at Morgan State in 1955, participated in Baltimore’s first successful sit-in protest at Read’s– a building that is currently threatened with demolition by the development of the “Superblock.”
Preserving Baltimore’s Civil Rights Heritage
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, 830 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202
Wednesday, February 9, 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Free, RSVP today!
Parking for museum visitors is located across the street at the Dodge PMI Garage at 815 E. Pratt St. $6 validated parking is available. Transit options include MTA Bus 10 via President Street, Charm City Circulator Orange Route Stop 201, & the Shot Tower/Market Place Subway Station.
Howard & Lexington Streets 1963, BGE Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Industry
One of the West Side’s least well known but most important stories is the history of the former Read’s Drug Store at Howard and Lexington Streets and its landmark role in Baltimore’s civil rights movement. Built in 1934 by Baltimore architects Smith & May, the press heralded this Art Deco structure as a local landmark from its beginning– a modern flagship store for the Read’s chain, continuing their 50-year presence at the bustling heart of the downtown retail district.
Like many downtown commercial establishments in the early 1950s, the Read’s chain maintained a strict policy of racial segregation at their lunch counters. In 1955, a group of Morgan State students came together with the leadership of the recently organized Baltimore Committee on Racial Equality to organize a sit-in protest at the lunch counter of the Read’s Drug Store at Howard and Lexington Streets. They succeeded in this effort, marking this building as a witness to the first successful student-led sit-in protest in Baltimore and defining a powerful model for the more famous lunch-counter sit-in of Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960. This building is currently threatened with total demolition by the proposed development of the Superblock by the Baltimore Development Corporation and Lexington Square Partners. Baltimore Heritage, together with partners and supporters from across the city, is advocating for the city to reconsider this proposal and encourage the preservation and re-use of this essential landmark in Baltimore’s civil rights history.