Archive for April, 2011
Opened in 1880, the Calvert Street Bridge was a magnificent iron structure that spanned the Jones Falls in Midtown, Baltimore. One of two main northbound arteries, the other being nearby Charles Street, Calvert Street was a heavily trafficked thoroughfare in the days before the expressway was constructed. Countless Baltimoreans passed the noble lions on their way home from work, running errands or traveling to the countryside. The Gilded Age bridge was a monument to post-Reconstruction Era America.
After falling out of public favor, the lions were removed in 1957. For ten years the sculptures toiled away in a Druid Hill Park Storage facility. Eventually three lions ended up in a small park in Bolton Hill adjacent to the Francis Scott Key Monument. The statues have one paw raised, but curiously they are without object. This historic postcard shows the lion paw resting atop a shield with the Battle Monument on its front. The shields and the fourth lion have not been located by this author.
The neighboring southbound Saint Paul Street Bridge was similar in design and possessed four Lady Baltimore statues at each of its corners. The ladies were removed during the span’s 1960 renovation. One resides in Mount Royal Terrace Park, two are on the grounds of Cylburn Arboretum and the fourth was given to County Longford, Ireland, land once owned by George Calvert, 1st Baron of Baltimore.
219 29th Division Street (Street View)
GPS: 39° 18′ 13.33″ N 76° 37′ 19.24″ W
Dedicated in 1925 to the soldiers of Maryland’s Fifth Regiment that lost their lives in World War One, To the Glory of Maryland graces the front of Baltimore’s historic armory building. Created by local sculptor Hans Schuler, the relief hangs above the main entrance of the Wyatt and Nolting designed structure. The armory itself was completed in 1901 and provided Baltimore with a suitable military institution. The massive castle-like building took two-and-a-half years to build and included an elaborate tunnel system underneath. The underground arteries reached the Baltimore Port and were used to safely transfer arms and troops undetected on the surface. After a 12 alarm fire in 1932 a pillared basement was installed, eliminating the hidden passageways.
At one point in time the armory was the largest convention center in Maryland, hosting events ranging from the circus to presidential conventions. John F. Kennedy even spoke here during his brief political career. The building still houses numerous government agencies and is only accessible by permission.
When I arrived to photograph the sculpture I was initially denied access to the grounds. The guard, an ex-Baltimore City police officer, after hearing my intentions, escorted me to the front door and allowed me to take a few pictures of the Schuler sculpture. The detail and care that went into the project is incredible. The ominous representation of courage and sacrifice reminds me of Patterson Park’s General Pulaski Monument (also sculpted by Schuler).
- Fifth Regiment Servicemen Memorial
- Hamman-Costin WWI Medal of Honor Memorial
- Francis Scott Key Monument in Bolton Hill
- Maryland Line Monument
Built between 1782 and 1784, the Null House is one of the oldest extant homes in Baltimore City. The historic clapboard abode is located at 1037 Hillen Street, 300 feet from where it originally stood. The dwelling was relocated in 1980 to avoid demolition. A BGE facility occupies the lot today.
The Null House is significant for its all wooden construction. Its highly flammable building materials were prohibited after an 1799 ordnance was enacted. Equal parts luck and good fortune have spared this piece of Americana. Painted light blue and unoccupied, the two-and-a-half story building is invariably easy to walk past without noticing. The fact that it’s been responsibly owned and cared for all these years is extraordinary.
Listed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1983, three years after it was relocated, and fairly early for a Baltimore structure, raises questions about the further significance of the privately owned Hillen Street home. The first being: Why is it called the Null House?
• • •
After viewing the Passano file entry at the Maryland Historical Society’s H. Furlong Baldwin Library I found that the Null family owned the house for several generations. Cabinetmaker Francis T. Null (1872-1949) used the building for his successful business. His daughter Cornelia inherited the property thereafter.
This Hans Schuler sculpture depicts the 19th Century ship the Julia Rollins. Marking Commodore Thornton Rollins grave in Green Mount Cemetery, the detailed relief was created around 1935, the year of the Commodore’s death. Thornton Rollins was a successful Baltimore merchant who dealt heavily in the international coffee trade. In 1885 Rollins commissioned the Skinner & Sons shipbuilding company to build the 146-foot bark for his growing enterprise. Baltimore was a thriving American port in the late 1800s and Skinner & Sons was a premiere shipbuilder, employing around 250 people and maintaining a 350′ X 350′ dry dock at the harbor. The Julia Rollins was named after the Commodore’s wife and cost $24,208.
On January 29, 1894, the 586 ton bark came under enemy fire at Rio Harbor. The merchant ship was attacked by Brazilian insurgents during their bombardment of Rio de Janeiro. The complicated diplomatic affair was tempered by the American Admiral Andrew E. K. Benham, a Civil War veteran sent to the region to protect American interests. Benham’s order of return fire from the U.S.S. Detroit stunned the determined insurgents. However, the Brazilian rebels, under the leadership of Admiral de Gama, did not go easily, and musket fire was exchanged. Realizing the American’s strict stance, de Gama attempted to surrender to U.S. forces. Admiral Benham refused and maintained his defensive position until the conflict was resolved. The rebellion ended a few months later and order was returned to Rio Harbor. The minor maritime standoff made newspaper headlines across the United States and was seen as an act of patriotism by President Cleveland and his administration. The Julia Rollins was later renamed the Northwest. It sank off the coast of South Carolina on July 13, 1916.