Archive for the ‘City Hall’ Category
The Baltimore born Wendel Bollman (1814-1884) designed the first iron truss bridge in the United States. In 1847, working under the engineer Benjamin Henry Latrobe II, son of the U. S. Capitol’s architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Bollman was named head of the Harper’s Ferry, Virginia line of bridges for the B&O Railroad. Realizing that standard wooden bridges decayed too rapidly, he turned to the less frequently used iron for construction. The self-taught engineer’s structures performed well and the iron truss bridge was quickly adopted by his bosses. He received a patent for his truss design, vaulting him to the top of his profession. Wendel Bollman’s importance to the advancement of American engineering is rooted in his methods. His use of math and logic helped pave the way for a more scientific approach to civil planning.
Only one Bollman bridge, located in Savage, MD, remains today. The rest have either been replaced or were destroyed. His most famous bridge (at Harper’s Ferry) was taken out several times during the Civil War. The strategic overpass was rebuilt and lasted until 1936, when it was wiped out during a devastating flood. However, two of his iron creations still adorn historic Baltimore buildings. The dome of City Hall‘s rotunda and the steeple of the First and Franklin Presbyterian Church were fashioned by Bollman.
Baltimore City Hall was dedicated on October 25, 1875. It replaced the Peale Museum, the forty-six year temporary home for city employees, and was an important step in Baltimore’s development as a prominent American city. Located at 100 North Holliday Street, the French Revival style structure was designed by the twenty-one year old George A. Frederick. Frederick also designed the Druid Hill’s Moorish Tower, Saint Thomas Aquinas Church and Cylburn Mansion during his long and successful career. The Wendel Bollman designed iron dome was fabricated by the Bartlett-Hayward Company of Baltimore.
At the behest of then Mayor William Donald Schaefer, the building’s interior was remodeled in 1976 after signs of dangerous deterioration were noticed. Baltimore’s City Hall is the only building of its kind in America that was renovated to continue as a city hall. In 2009 city government voted to restore and clean the exterior marble of the structure. A half a million dollars was allocated for the project.
On the second floor several statues are on display. Two Hans Schuler pieces, the Centennial Eagle and William Pinkney Whyte statue, along with Edward Berge’s likeness of Thomas Gordon Hayes, dominate the bronze exhibits.
The Holliday Street Theatre used to be located directly across from Baltimore’s City Hall, at the present site of War Memorial Plaza. Junius Brutus Booth, the father of John Wilkes Booth, made his first American appearance in the historic playhouse, as did Francis Key’s Star-Spangled Banner. Aside from Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre, the Holliday was the oldest playhouse in the country.
Constructed 1794 by Thomas Wignell and Alexander Reinagle, the wood-framed building was given the nickname “Old Drury” by locals. Robert Cary Long rebuilt the theater between 1811 and 1813 after a devastating fire. Long’s building lasted until 1873 when another fire wiped out the historic structure. Rebuilt again in 1874, the Holliday Street Theatre was eventually razed in the 1920s to make way for War Memorial Plaza. This tablet, located at the base of War Memorial Plaza’s southern flagstaff, marks the original spot of the building.
City Hall’s second floor has numerous memorial sculptures and tablets on display. Two statues, one of Thomas Gordon Hayes and one of William Pinkney Whyte, dominate the group. The former Baltimore City mayors were sculpted by Edward Berge and Hans Schuler respectively, adding to the large number of public statues created by the pair. Another Schuler sculpture honoring the 100th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner is across the rotunda. The Centennial Eagle was dedicated in 1914.
Reuben Kramer, who created downtown’s rustic looking statue of Thurgood Marshall, provided the bust of Theodore McKeldin. The Howard W. Jackson memorial was sculpted by Jack Lambert, the artist responsible for the nearby medallions of Herbert Fallin and Dr. Horace Flack.
In 1986, William Donald Schaefer had a small plaque placed at the west end of War Memorial Plaza. The monument honors the members of the Baltimore community who have “unselfishly given their time, labor and talents to help improve the quality of life in our community without ever seeking reward or recognition.”
100 N Holliday Street (Street View)
GPS: 39° 17′ 27.21″ N 76° 36′ 36.05″ W
Dedicated on May 30, 1972, this monument to African-American servicemen slain in the protection of their country is by artist James E. Lewis. Paid for by an anonymous donor, it stands on the west end of War Memorial Plaza, facing the magnificent War Memorial Building with its aquatic horse statues. Behind the statue rises Baltimore City Hall. The statue was originally installed on the north side of the Battle Monument, but opponents argued it would detract from the importance of that memorial, and it was moved to it’s current location.
On January 17, 2009, President-Elect Barack Obama came to War Memorial Plaza to deliver a well-attended speech in which he referenced Baltimore and Maryland’s historic role in the formation of the United States. The Black Soldiers Statue stands on the former site of the Holliday Street Theatre, a famous playhouse where Junius and John Wilkes Booth once performed.
Hans Schuler’s Centennial Eagle, created for the centennial celebration of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, is displayed on City Hall’s second floor. The sculpture, dedicated in 1914, was originally placed on the outside front of the building, but has since been restored and moved inside. A dedication plaque is affixed to the statue’s plinth. Its inscription reads: TO COMMEMORATE THE CENTENARY OF THE WRITING OF THE AMERICAN NATIONAL ANTHEM “THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER”