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Fasces Around Charm City

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Washington Monument Marquis de Lafayette Battle Monument Patterson Park

Fasces is a bundle of rods bound in ribbon with an axe contained within. Roman lictors, bodyguards of the republic, carried the symbolic weapon as they faithfully protected government officials. Lictors were physically capable men with the power to arrest citizens compromising the establishment. Fasces became a powerful mark of the Roman Republic, an emblem of democratic principals.

Baltimore has several examples of fasces decorating public monuments and architecture. Robert Mills designed the ornate wrought-iron fence around Mount Vernon’s Washington Monument. On the base of the nearby Marquis de Lafayette Monument is a subtle fasces representation. Both contain the axe.

The Battle Monument is a large bundle without an axe. Architect Maximilian Godefroy omitted the cleaver from America’s first servicemen memorial. The column’s ribbon is decorated with the names of those who lost their lives in the Battle of Baltimore. George Aloysius Frederick, architect of City Hall, added fasces to the main entrance markers to Patterson Park. The pillars occupy the northwest corner of the park adjacent to the pagoda.

Italian leader Benito Mussolini adopted fasces as motif for the National Fascist Party. Mussolini retained the axe at center as a message of potential applied force. The negative association confused the overall directive of the historic bundle. The examples above precede Mussolini’s application of the symbol.

Written by monumentcity

January 18th, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Posted in All Posts,Marker

The Grave of Elijah Jefferson Bond

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Elijah Bond was best known for filing the first United States patent for the Ouija board. Born in Harford County, MD in 1847, Bond became a successful lawyer in Baltimore City, starting his own practice in the 1870s. He filed the Ouija patent on behalf of the Kennard Novelty Company in 1891. Elijah Bond died in 1921 and was anonymously buried in his family’s plot at Green Mount Cemetery. Robert Murch, America’s foremost Ouija historian, after fifteen years of searching, located the ambiguous grave. Murch erected the Ouija-themed headstone in 2008. The cemetery’s mausoleum is nearby.

Written by monumentcity

February 12th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

War of 1812 Bomb and Rack

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This War of 1812 Bomb and Rack is positioned on Redwood Street between South Street and S. Calvert Street. The central downtown location is across from the Joseph Evans Sperry and J. B. Noel Wyatt designed Mercantile Trust and Deposit Company building. Fired from a British warship during the Battle of Baltimore, the bomb was found inside Fort McHenry after the historic engagement. An officer retained possession of the artifact, eventually gifting it to iron merchant Michael Keyser who, in turn, gifted it to the city. The monument was dedicated in 1863, was knocked over during the Great Fire of 1904, and rededicated in 1906. According to a 1905 map of Baltimore City, the Bomb and Rack mark the spot of the Keyser Building.

The Rack, where the bomb sits, was used to bend iron bars so they could fit inside Conestoga wagons. Used extensively during the 18th and 19th Centuries, the horse, mule or oxen drawn carriages could carry up to eight tons and were the American military’s primary cargo vehicle until the the arrival of the railroad. The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Inventory of state monuments lists the War of 1812 Bomb and Rack under their Baltimore City category.

Written by monumentcity

February 4th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Overhill Waiting Shelter in Roland Park

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The Overhill Waiting Shelter is one of the last remnants of the No. 29 Boulevard streetcar line which ran from Roland Park to downtown. In operation from 1908 to 1947, the line’s open air cars were a favorite of Baltimoreans during summer months, the commute offering a brief respite from the exhausting heat. The No. 29 was converted to bus service in June of 1947. The waiting station, situated along University Parkway in what is known as Centennial Park, is a lasting monument to the Baltimore trolley system. The Roland Water Tower stands at the top of the hill.

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January 13th, 2011 at 9:27 am

Bedford Square Station in Guilford

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This waiting station was part of Bedford Square Streetcar Line No. 11. Operated by the United Railways and Electric Company, the streetcar line was developed to supply Guilford residents with reliable and affordable access to the city. Built between 1913 and 1950, Guilford is a north Baltimore neighborhood designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. The 210 acre suburban tract is characterized by rolling hills, regal homes and classic landscaping. The historic community was serviced by trolley until 1947 when the progression towards automobiles finally overtook the interurban railway. The Bedford Square Station was converted to a bus stop and later a monument. A bust of Simon Bolivar is across the street.

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December 30th, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Druid Hill’s Memorial Pool

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While biking through Druid Hill Park I stumbled upon a large public pool filled with dirt and grass. An information tablet, though nearly aged beyond readability, indicates that the strange oasis is a memorial to the struggles of racial segregation and those that endured its hardships. During the first half of the 20th century Druid Hill Park operated under strict laws of separation, blacks and whites assigned to their own swimming and tennis facilities.

Pool no. 2 was the only outdoor public swimming area in Baltimore for African-Americans. Standout athletes like Connie Boyd refined their abilities at the well-attended and safe facility. By June of 1956 the city’s parks were fully integrated. The memorial landscape was designed by artist Joyce J. Scott.

Written by monumentcity

September 5th, 2010 at 8:37 am

The Grave of Johnny Eck

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Baltimore’s Green Mount Cemetery is the final resting place of sideshow performer Johnny Eck. Section R, grave 19 contains the remains of Johnny and his fraternal twin brother Robert. The Ecks (or Eckhardts) were born in East Baltimore in the same house they eventually died in. Traveling often, the brothers always returned to their family home, maintaining the quaint rowhouse even as the neighborhood around it slowly declined. The house was purchased by an Eck enthusiast and is being converted to a museum.

Johnny was a true American icon, born with nothing below his torso, he transformed his inadequacy into a prosperous business. He walked tightropes, performed magic, created models, acted in movies and drove his own modified car. Johnny Eck died in 1991, followed four years later by his brother and lifelong companion, Robert. This modest monument marks their permanent address.

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March 29th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Druid Hill Park’s Madison Avenue Entrance

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In 1863, George A. Frederick became the city’s architect for the Baltimore Park Commission, holding the position until 1895. Frederick created Druid Hill’s observatory and greenhouse, along with several buildings in Patterson Park and Federal Hill Park. Between 1867 and 1868 this monumental gateway was constructed at Druid Hill Park’s Madison Avenue entrance. There is some speculation that John H. B. Latrobe, son of architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, designed the sandstone entranceway, but it’s more likely that Frederick was behind the construct. Either way, the gateway serves as a fitting monument to one of America’s oldest parks. The Repeal Statue is a few paces away.

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March 22nd, 2010 at 7:59 am

Monument to the First Gas Street Lamp in America

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At the corner of North Holliday Street and East Baltimore Street stands a monument to the first gas street lamp in the United States. Erected in 1997, the lamp is a replica of the early 19th century original. On the evening of June 11, 1816, local businessmen and socialites were invited to Rembrandt Peale’s Museum for a demonstration under the glow of artificial light. During a candlelit period in American history the forward-thinking Peale aimed to form a business around his gas light innovations, the exhibition targeting potential investors.

The gamble worked, and several financiers aligned with Peale, forming The Gas Light Company of Baltimore (the precursor to Baltimore Gas & Electric). Less than a year later, on February 7, 1817, the first public gas street lamp was lit in a ceremony one block south of City Hall. The Gayety Theatre is across the street.

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February 18th, 2010 at 7:46 am

Mayor Edward Johnson

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Edward Johnson was elected in 1808 as the third mayor of Baltimore, replacing Thorowgood Smith. Johnson was subsequently re-elected in 1810, 1812, 1814, 1819 and and finally in 1822.

In the summer of 1812, with war against England looming, an angry mob of Baltimoreans trapped and tortured a group of British Sympathizers at old city jail. Mayor Johnson arrived in order to quell the situation, where he advised the prisoners and negotiated with the mob. His stance against the instigators was an important political decision as Baltimore, and the United States, moved away from vigilantism. He is also noted for owning the brewery in which Mary Pickersgill sewed the Star-Spangled Banner, America’s most significant flag.

A doctor by trade, Johnson began his medical practice the same year he entered politics. During a serious yellow fever outbreak in 1819, Johnson donated $150.00 of his own money for the publication of a medical report on the epidemic. His efforts proved central in ending the citywide health crisis. An historical tablet, placed across the street from Carroll Mansion, marks the location of his former home. Brewer’s Park, recently replaced with a hotel, was once next door.

Written by monumentcity

February 7th, 2010 at 1:57 pm