Archive for the ‘War Memorial Plaza’ Category
“Burn the theatre,” was the first thing Edman Spangler heard following John Wilkes Booth’s infamous fatal shot on April 14, 1865. Edman Spangler, sometimes known as Ned or Edmund, was a carpenter at Ford’s Theatre and was an acquaintance of Booth’s, occasionally caring for the actor’s horse which was stabled behind the Washington D.C. playhouse. He claimed to have no knowledge of Booth’s escape route, but his story is contradicted by another stagehand working that night. Jake Rittersback claims Spangler told him to keep quiet when the two spoke after the assassination.
This and other damning testimony about his Confederate leanings and distaste for the president lead to his eventual arrest and sentencing of six years in jail. He traveled on the USS Florida to Fort Jefferson with Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold and Michael O’Laughlen, three other Booth co-conspirators.
On December 25, 1868 President Andrew Johnson pardoned the four convicts. Edman Spangler returned to Baltimore with Samuel Arnold and went to work as a carpenter at the Holliday Street Theatre for John T. Ford, his former boss and the previous owner of Ford’s Theatre. In 1873 the Holliday burned down and Spangler moved to Dr. Samuel Mudd’s farm in what is now Waldorf, MD where he lived out his final years. He is buried two miles from the Mudd residence in the St. Peter’s Church burial ground.
The Zion Lutheran Church (once called German Lutheran Reformed Church) was established in 1755, 25 years after the village of Baltimore Town was organized. The congregation worshiped in private residences and eventually a small meeting house until 1807, when a location was agreed upon and a church was erected.
The original building facing Gay Street and the Jones Falls was finished in 1808 and was built by George Rohrbach and Johann Mackenheimer. When it burned down in 1840 the church promptly erected a second structure that still stands today. The tower and parish hall were added in 1913 by architect Theodore Wells Pietsch. The prominent newer structure is next door to the Peale Museum and catercorner to City Hall. The German-born artist Hans Schuler created several sculptures that decorate the garden area.
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 Wendell 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.
The James Cardinal Gibbons birthplace marker resides at the east side of War Memorial Plaza in downtown Baltimore. Gibbons was born in Charm City at this location in 1834, the tablet commemorating the occasion. Archdiocese of the Baltimore Catholic Church from 1877 until his death, the Cardinal was famous for fighting for worker’s rights, defending the vast numbers of Catholic laborers during the industrial period of America at the centuries turn. His book, The Faith of Our Fathers is an enduring success, and continues to be his hallmark statement. A statue of Gibbons sits outside of America’s first Cathedral, the Basilica of the Assumption.
Location: N Gay Street & E Lexington Street
On the Fire Department Headquarters building at War Memorial Plaza is a plaque erected in 1929 commemorating the 200 year anniversary of Baltimore Town. In 1729, a group of citizens petitioned the British for the rights to establish a town near the Jones Falls. The commission was authorized to buy 60 acres of land north of the Patapsco River, a tract of earth known then as Cole’s Harbour. The town was to be divided into 60 lots, available first to the inhabitants of Baltimore County. In 1732, Jonas Town (later Jones Town) was established east of Baltimore Town and, in 1745, the two were combined to form the heart of Baltimore. The tablet was designed by R. Foxhall Nolley.
Location: N Gay Street & E Lexington Street
Across Gay Street from the War Memorial Building is a plaque commemorating the rededication of War Memorial Plaza. The marker reads: “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” This same inscription was on the front facade of Memorial Stadium and is on the new war monument at Camden Yards.
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.”
N Gay Street & E Fayette Street (Street View)
GPS: 39° 17′ 26.85″ N 76° 36′ 31.96″ W
Construction on the War Memorial Building at 101 North Gay Street began in 1921, and was completed four years later. The massive monument to Maryland’s soldiers that died in World War I is the work of Laurence Hall Fowler, a local architect who’s design won a competition held by officials for the commission. Directly across from Baltimore’s City Hall, the lot was chosen as part of the 1910 Olmstead plan to focus the city’s more important buildings into a civic plaza.
Flanking the Neoclassical edifice are two aquatic war horse sculptures created by by Edmond R. Amateis that are said to depict “the might of America crossing the sea to come to the aid of the Allies.” Made of Indiana limestone, the horses, when viewed up-close, display fossils of marine organisms. Along the sides and back of the building are German cannon confiscated during WWI. In 1977, the memorial was rededicated to honor the state’s lost from both World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Inside the building is an impressive banquet hall occupying the top floor. With high ceilings and room for hundreds of people, the vast open space is used for various events. Usually occupied by veteran’s groups and city or state politicians (the memorial is owned jointly between Baltimore and Maryland), the location has recently been used for fashion shows and movie sets. A large mural depicting the “sacrifice to patriotism,” painted by Charm City artist R. McGill Mackall, covers the back wall. Throughout the auditorium are the names of the 1752 Maryland fatalities of WWI.