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The Promenade in Druid Hill Park

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Behind Druid Hill Park’s Conservatory & Botanic Gardens is a little used path that once lead to the Music Pavilion. The Promenade (conceptualized by the Olmsted Brothers) was a central feature of the city’s largest and best park, a place where patrons could gather and listen to music by either traveling acts or the park’s string band. The former yellow brick path, once lined with comfortable benches and well-maintained landscaping, is now a parking lot for the conservatory’s workers. The mall’s Moorish style pavilion was designed by George Aloysius Frederick and completed in 1865. The Gazebo eventually fell into disrepair and was torn down in 1961.

Written by monumentcity

December 11th, 2010 at 10:26 am

Rogers-Buchanan Burial Ground in Druid Hill Park

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Rogers-Buchanan Burial Ground lies within the boundaries of Druid Hill Park across the street from the zoo’s Reptile House. This small north Baltimore cemetery was created in the 1700s as a typical family estate burying ground.

The estate was acquired by Lord Baltimore in the late 1600s and being prized for its lumber, was sold many times to industrial colonialists. Nicholas Rogers came to own 200 acres of the forest-covered land. When Rogers died in 1709 he left the estate to his daughter Eleanor.

Eleanor married George Buchanan, one of the seven commissioners responsible for establishing Baltimore City, and bore him ten children. When George Buchanan died in 1750, his son Lloyd took over the land, adding surrounding properties and enlarging the estate to 625 acres.

When Lloyd Buchanan passed, Eleanor, his four year old daughter, inherited the property. Eleanor Buchanan married Colonel Nicholas Rogers IV, her first cousin once removed, in 1783.

The Colonel, a Revolutionary War veteran, had an interest in architecture and worked on city projects with builder/architect Robert Cary Long. Rogers designed the the Assembly Room which stood adjacent to the old courthouse. The building burned down in 1873 in the Holliday Street Theatre fire.

Through the years the Rogers family modified the estate, adding rolling pathways and adventurous landscaping. Colonel Rogers IV made great improvements to the property by adding bays and indentations to the untamed forest.

In a unique move for the time, the Colonel’s will provided that his slaves be freed and given monthly salaries upon his passing. Rogers IV died in 1822, outliving his wife by ten years. Their son Lloyd Nicholas Rogers inherited Druid Hill.

Rumored to be a recluse, Lloyd apparently cut off ties with friends, city officials and former family business partners. When Mayor Thomas Swann and City Council wanted to build a turnpike through the Rogers-Buchanan estate, Lloyd refused. A bitter and lengthy battle ensued. Lloyd Nicholas Rogers died in 1860, a month and a half after he unwillingly sold the family property.

The half-acre graveyard was left in the possession of the Rogers family when the sale of the park was finalized. The burial ground’s last interment was Edmund Law Rogers in 1896.

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Written by monumentcity

December 6th, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Three Sisters Ponds in Druid Hill Park

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Three Sisters Ponds is situated in the northwest corner of Druid Hill Park. Originally made up of five separate bodies of water, Three Sisters is a network of man-made basins surrounded by strolling paths, elderly trees and a disc golf course. Originally part of the park’s fish hatchery, the ponds were once fed by the adjacent High Service Reservoir (now a baseball diamond). Three Sisters Ponds have been abandoned since the 1960s. The Rogers-Buchanan Burial Ground perches on a nearby hill just off of Greenspring Avenue.

The front pond is small and oval-shaped, its stone wall reinforced with concrete and wood. Structurally sound, it looks like it may hold water if filled. It appears to be the newest basin in the network.

Sea Lion Pond, a fenced-in former zoo installation that once housed two eared seals, is a few paces north. A stone formation sits at the center of the pool and an enclosed fountainhead behind a gated entrance occupies the southern end of the pond. The Friends of Druid Hill Park have been routinely cleaning the neglected area.

Directly above Sea Lion Pond is the largest of the Three Sisters, yet the most difficult to locate. Covered in copious layers of vines and brush, the hidden marsh is well over an acre in size and was known as Lily Pond. Its eastern portion, once on the other side of Three Sisters Lane, has been completely removed.

Further north is the what seems to be oldest basin in the complex, its walls made of uneven dark green rock. It has the appearance of an early 19th Century reservoir and looks very much like a smaller, older version of Druid Hill Lake. All four ponds empty into a rolling creek that leads to the Jones Falls.

Written by monumentcity

December 3rd, 2010 at 11:55 am

Druid Hill’s Blacksmith Shop

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Druid Hill Park is as tranquil as the city of Baltimore gets. The 150 year old park stretches out over 700 acres, much of which is covered in forest cut with simple utility roads and bike trails. The Jones Falls Trailhead is accessible from the Woodberry / Clipper Mill area just around the corner from Woodberry Kitchen. Once you’re on the trail you can either exit to the northwest side of the park along Philosopher’s Walk or take the work roads through the woods along the path of the Jones Falls. The little used roads wind through the dense foliage along the northern boundary of the zoo. The other day I rounded an unfamiliar bend and found the fenced off ruins of a building. After a little research I found that the structure was once Druid Hill’s blacksmith shop. The historic building is without a roof but its foundation and outside walls remain. The old repair shop is situated next to a peaceful waterfall.

Written by monumentcity

November 16th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

James Ridgely Monument in Harlem Square

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The James Ridgely Monument was commissioned by the Sovereign Grand Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Designed by artist Alexander Doyle and completed in 1885, the statue stands in West Baltimore’s Harlem Square.

James Ridgely joined the American Odd Fellows in 1829, ten years after the North American chapter was founded by Thomas Wildey. As a well-educated man and member of the Maryland Bar, Ridgley quickly moved through the ranks of the friendly society. He was elected Grand Sire, the highest position of the Order, in 1936. In 1941 he stepped down to become Grand Secretary, a post he held for the remainder of his life.

James Ridgely wrote manuals, pamphlets and books for and on the secret group, his body of work representing forty years of American Odd Fellows history. He is buried in Green Mount Cemetery.

I haven’t been to the monument yet, but I have seen it from a taxi. When I get the the chance I’ll travel down there and photograph the statue, as well as any adjoining plaques or inscriptions. Hopefully this will help confirm the information I’ve read about Mr. Ridgely.

Nearby

Links

Location

1500 Edmonson Avenue (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 45.70″ N 76° 38′ 31.70″ W

Written by monumentcity

September 20th, 2010 at 8:44 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

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.

Written by monumentcity

March 22nd, 2010 at 7:59 am

Human Flag at Fort McHenry in 1914

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On September 12, 1914, during the citywide centennial celebration of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Baltimore dedicated Fort McHenry as a public park. 6500 school children were arranged on a grandstand in the form of a massive human flag. The children, accompanied by a 250 piece marching band, sang Francis Scott Key’s historic anthem, a song inspired and written during the Battle of Baltimore. The Star-Spangled Banner would finally become the nation’s official anthem in 1931. Edward Berge’s George Armistead Monument was unveiled during the day’s festivities.

Written by monumentcity

March 17th, 2010 at 7:05 am

Druid Hill Park’s Historic Buildings (Part One)

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Druid Hill Park has an array of historic structures within its boundaries. Opened just before the Civil War, the enormous public estate features monuments, installations and buildings from a time before ours.

George A. Frederick designed many of the park’s buildings. His Moorish Tower stands at the southeast edge of Druid Hill Lake, the location overlooking the city. Another Frederick design is the Palm House (or Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens) located at McCulloh and Gwynn Falls Parkway, near the zoo entrance. Completed in 1888, the Victorian style building is the last of Baltimore’s greenhouses still standing. Carroll Park, Patterson Park and Clifton Park all had similar buildings at one time, each falling victim to decay and demolition. The Druid Hill’s Conservatory was restored in 2004. Frederick also designed the main entrance on Madison Avenue, as well as the numerous pavilions scattered throughout the park including Council Grove Station and Latrobe Pavilion.

The regal Mansion House sits on a hill, its front yard a vast open field. Designed by Colonel Nicholas Rogers IV and buiilt in the late 18th century the building was the former home of the Rogers Family. Lloyd Nicholas Rogers (son of the Colonel) reluctantly sold the mansion and estate to the city of Baltimore in 1860. The English style residence and corresponding country landscape was preserved when the city began designing and constructing the park. George A. Frederick and John H. B. Latrobe made alterations and additions to the mansion during the late 1800s. The building now contains the main office of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

The headquarters for Baltimore’s Department of Recreation and Parks is housed in the restored public bathhouse. After a $2.6 million renovation in 1994, the white marble structure was opened as the Dr. Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, Jr. Building. The structure was designed by Josias and Hall Pennington and completed in 1924.

The Grove of Remembrance Pavilion was installed in 1927. The grove itself was planted in 1919 as a memorial to those who fought in WWI and is possibly the oldest living memorial in the United States. A tree was planted for each state, the city of Baltimore and president Woodrow Wilson. The grove has since been rededicated to include all of America’s conflicts and those that lost their lives in them. Colonel Israel Rosenfeld paid for the pavilion in honor of his fallen soldier son, Merrill Rosenfeld.

The Superintendent’s House was built in 1872 and was designed by George A. Frederick. It stands on small parcel of land disconnected from Druid Hill bounded by Auchentorly Terrace, Liberty Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road. The Gothic style mansion is slated for complete renovation.

Written by monumentcity

February 1st, 2010 at 9:36 am

Wyman Estate Gatehouse in Charles Village

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The Wyman Estate Gatehouse is located at the corner of North Charles Street and Art Museum Drive next to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The gatehouse once marked the entrance to the Wyman Estate, a vast rural tract of land north of the city. Samuel Wyman purchased the elegant property from Charles Carroll of Carrollton’s great-grandson, John Lee Carroll, in 1839.

William Wyman, son of Samuel, hired architect Richard Upjohn to design a mansion on the property around the time of the Civil War. Homewood Villa was razed in 1954 by the university, but the gatehouse remains. The Wyman family owned the land until 1902 when they presented it to Johns Hopkins University. Part of the land was preserved as a city park named in their honor. In 1965 the Johns Hopkins News-Letter moved their headquarters into the gatehouse.

Written by monumentcity

December 30th, 2009 at 7:00 pm