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Tuesday evening I attended a class “Explore Baltimore Heritage 101” and during the class it was talked about ‘sources’ used for writing about historic people, places and things. My main interest in this (other than the history of sewers) are the displaced and missing monuments. My most recent research of just one, the Monument to Columbus, shows how various people looked at things and more importantly, are their perceptions true historical facts?
From the Monument City Blog:
To commemorate the three-hundred year anniversary of Columbus discovering America, a forty-four foot obelisk was erected in Charm City. Made of brick with a stucco finish, the monument to Columbus is the oldest in the country, and world, that is still standing. Originally it was placed on the estate of French Consul to Baltimore, Charles Francois Adrian De Paulmier, Chevalier d’Anmour, and was moved to its current location in 1964. Rumor has it that one evening De Paulmier was entertaining guests, which he did frequently, and they started discussing the great men of the western world. It was mentioned that there was not a single monument to Christopher Columbus in America. De Paulmier promised to change this fact, placing the monolith on his property shortly thereafter.
Another Monument City Blog:
The first monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus in the United States is the 44 foot tall obelisk on Hartford [Harford] Road, just east of Lake Montebello. The structure was erected, in 1792, to commemorate the three-hundred year anniversary of the explorer’s discovery of America. During the 19th century a local legend developed stating that the obelisk was actually a monument to a horse of the same name, not the explorer.
The Italian community refused to recognize the obelisk, eventually collecting funds and erecting their own statue on the shore of Druid Lake. On Columbus Day in 1892 the monument was unveiled. The sculpture, carved by Albert Weinert, is a reproduction of artist Achille Canessa’s original. In 1950, Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, Jr. placed a wreath on the neglected Hartford Road monument, finally putting an end to misconception, and giving equal worth to both memorials.
A third monument to Chris Columbus stands in the Inner Harbor near the Katyn Memorial and the Public Works Museum. Professor Wayne Schaumburg of Johns Hopkins University states that Mayor William Schaefer planned to move the Weinert Columbus to the Harbor East location but the Druid Hill neighborhood committees protested strongly. Instead, a new statue was created and dedicated, in 1984, with President Reagan attending the ceremony.
1992 Sunpaper: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-05-21/news/1992142117_1_columbus-monuments-baltimore-county-columbus-day
Because the monument was on private property, it remained unknown to the public for decades. As the estate passed through several hands and lapsed into ruin, the obelisk eventually was forgotten. North Avenue became a public thoroughfare in 1876. Sometime later, a group of Johns Hopkins students exploring the woods stumbled across the obelisk. Its last previous known sighting had occurred in 1863 when Union soldiers at Belmont found it while cutting trees for firewood and fortifications. Woods reclaimed the area after the Civil War. In 1887, Belmont became the Samuel B. Ready School. It moved to West Baltimore in 1938 to make way for Sears Roebuck’s huge store, which is now the Eastside District Court. The obelisk, considered too fragile to be moved, was left behind on what became a Sears parking lot. In 1963, however, the city moved it to its present location in a grove of maples, pines and arbor vitae on Harford Road at Parkside Drive. It was the focus of traditional Columbus Day ceremonies until 1977, when the festivities were moved to East Baltimore and then to the Inner Harbor. The old monument drifted farther from public consciousness after October 1984, when President Ronald Reagan dedicated a new statue of the Great Explorer in a plaza at the edge of Little Italy. But the obelisk has refused to be ignored throughout its history. Now, it has bobbed up again during the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ achievements, say Mr. D’Alesandro and Mr. Culotta. And very appropriately, they add. After all, they say, the monument was North America’s first recognition of Columbus’ voyage, and another two centuries have elapsed since then.


The monument behind Sears.


Making way for a new parking lot.


After a short move, placing at its new location.


Right down the street from my house.


The Little Italy version.