Somehow or another I ended up on a mailing list for an organization called S.P.O.O.M. – Society for the Preservation of Old Mills. I just received their latest posting and I see they are visiting Eden Mill on Deer Creek this weekend. Nice mill that I have written about before. (A favorite kayak spot) Back in 1933 when Baltimore City was looking for a new water source, Deer Creek was on the list of possible dam sites. If the dam was built at Rocks State Park, Eden Mill would be flooded. There were quite a few mills below that area which would have lost water power needed for the mills. One of which was Noble’s Mill, which I visited in 2012.
The Noble Mill map shows the road in front of the mill, between Deer Creek and the mill. Google Earth shows the road behind the mill.
Continuing with documenting and archiving, I found a collection of small posters concerning Public Works. I believe these were given out at the DPW Museum in Baltimore back in the 1980s during the time it was open. There are some missing and I hope to be able to find them, to complete the collection. Here are issues #1,3,4,6 and 7. #1 has some misinformation. The Roland Tower was completed in 1905 according to Annual Reports. Not sure what the word exhaneous, which is handwritten on the poster, means?
Over the years there have been many attempts at posters, exhibits, newsletters etc. I wish they would start doing more of the history in a poster like the above or a new newsletter… The City attempted to try a new format of the Annual Report, but it is inconsistent and sporadic at best.
The Peale Center, also once Baltimore’s City Hall and Colored School #1 and then a temporary Water Engineer’s office. Then the Municipal Museum and then a vacant…am I missing anything? It has been a lot of things since 1814 and I am really glad it is being restored to a museum.
View from across the street, at the Municipal Building – where the water engineers are now located. Workers had to move their scaffold out of the way so we could get in.
And the real reason for my visit – a talk by Peter Manseau on his book “The Apparitionist”. It was a really good talk. One thing that kind of stuck in my head was when he said, “There are about 50,000 deceased persons on Facebook. Still being visited by family and friends.” It is like a modern day seance in the electronic social media age. People get to see their departed loved ones, just like the photographs taken by 19th century photographers of dead people posing. But Peter’s book goes more into ghost being seen in glass plate images. I can’t wait to read his book…
1918 – From the City Officers’ Reports, including Mayor’s Message:
The people of Baltimore are proud of their city and sanguine of her future. With an awakening sense of her advantages; with confidence that Baltimore will have honest and economical and at the same time constructive and progressive City Government, private enterprise is going forward by leaps and bounds, co-operating with the public, through their City Government, in giving Baltimore a secure place in the front rank of cities famed for progress, for enterprise and business, for happy homes of a healthy, contented people, and for good government. Very respectfully, [signature] James H Preston, Mayor.
Kathy and I went up to York this past Saturday, to see Lyle Lovett and Shawn Colvin in concert. It was a good concert but I’m really not a big fan of this type of music. I was glad there was a sort of comedy skit between the two of them after each song. That made it very enjoyable. (I actually would have been content to listen to them exchange stories for two hours!)
And this was Saturday. We were in the Strand. Both theaters together make up the Appell Center for the Performing Arts. The Strand was built in 1925 and had a seating capacity of 1,262 (It was packed Saturday!) There are 1,800 pounds of gold leaf adorning the murals and columns throughout the theater. (No cameras allowed, although many people were taking photos, and my cell phone sucks for photography, so no pics). The Strand cost $1m to build and was closed in 1976. Reopened in 1980 after renovations.
The Capitol, next door, was built in 1906 and was called the Theatorium and then the Jackson. Originally built as a dance hall and then a balcony was added in 1917, to show movies. This theater closed in 1977 and reopened in 1981.
Lyle and Shawn. Friends since 1991 and still touring together. All photos, except two are from the Appell website.
And here is what a running one looks like. These vehicles cost $2,212 new, but they weren’t well received. Only 2,046 were sold. A place in Minnesota is selling one for $5,500.
When I first started researching the water history of Baltimore, and I came across a map of Swann Lake, I just assumed that it was called Swann Lake because the Mayor at that time was Thomas Swann, who later went on to be the Governor of Maryland.
Here is the man himself. In the journal I am presently transcribing, I came across this entry:
October 4, 1869: The Committee on Swann Lake submitted the following report: Having examined the minutes of the Board and the records of the office, with the view of ascertaining in what way and by what authority the Lake, so long called Lake Roland received the name of Swann Lake, would respectfully call the attention to the Board the following – That Mr. Charles Manning, Chief Engineer was asked to name the principal stream that supplies the Lake, by which with great propriety the Lake could be known. Under his direction the name of Lake Roland was placed over the door of the stop house and a map of Lake Roland was presented to the Water Board with the general and final report of the Chief Engineer on the completion of the Works. In this manner the lake became known to all our citizens, by a familiar and more appropriate local name. The Board of Water Commissioners, by resolution, posed at a regular meeting on December 26, 1861, approved and adopted what had been done in the premises…to be called Lake Roland. At some subsequent period the name on the door (Roland) was erased and Swann Lake inserted and a patch was made and placed on the map stating the same. In the opinion of the Committee, these changes and defacement were entirely unauthorized and would have been improper even if ordered by the Water Board. The Board has heretofore declared its opinion as to the impropriety of designating any of the public works by the name of an individual citizen, because of his connection with the City Government and your committee sees no reason why this Lake should be made an exception of. These views have long been entertained but have thought it best to defer presenting them until the present time, when by no possibility can it be supposed that you are in any way influenced by personal or political feeling. Ask that the Lake be referenced from this point forward as Lake Roland. Unanimously resolved.
So, one has to wonder – did a political adversary go and change the name from Roland to Swann over the door? And why would the Water Engineers continuously refer to the lake as Swann Lake? Every entry that I have summarized from the 1862-1869 journal notes “The work at Swann Lake…” or as such. Here is what the work at Swann Lake looked like. Even A. Hoen and Co. called it Swann.
Wikipedia has this to say about Thomas Swann – not too good a commentary!
Many believed once slavery was abolished in Maryland, African Americans would begin a mass emigration to a new state. As white soldiers returned from southern battlefields they came home to find that not only were their slaves gone but soil exhaustion was causing tobacco crops in southern Maryland to fail. With a growing number of disaffected white men, Thomas Swann embarked on a campaign of “Redemption” and “restoring to Maryland a white man’s government”. His strategy was built on the platform of entrenching white power and displacing independent African Americans. During this same time an oyster crisis in New England caused the oyster industry in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay to surge. Swann’s problem was that the Bay oyster trade was heavily African American. His solution; use government policy to push African Americans in the bay and replace them with, “White Labor, at reasonable rates wherever needed.” Even more egregious he enacted a law that encouraged white fisherman to harass black fisherman when he signed into law the states first ever “Oyster Code.” “And be it acted, that all owners and masters of canoes, boats, or vessels licensed under this article, being White Men, are hereby constituted officers of this state for the purpose of arresting and taking before any judge or Justice of the Peace, any persons who may be engaged in violating any provisions of this article. Furthermore, all such owners and masters are hereby vested with the power to summon pose comitatus to aid in such arrest.” Even more egregious, any property seized during an “Oyster Code” violation was auctioned off, with one quarter of the proceeds going to the white man who initiated the arrest.
Wow and as Confederate Monuments have been removed in Baltimore, I guess no one thought to remove the entrance of Druid Lake at Swan Drive that has his name emblazoned across the top of the arch!
Jump forward to 1987 and the mayor back then came up with a plan to give everyone new trash cans. Thirty years later, the new mayor did the same thing, at a cost of $10,000,000.00! I wonder what happened to the ones of 1987??
Sometimes the requests I receive for historical information have nothing to do with Water and Sewage. A friend from the Pratt Library and then one from the Baltimore City Archives both sent me request for information on a 1990 article in the Maryland Historical Society Magazine. The article concerned rye whiskey made in Maryland. Accompanying the article was this photograph.
The caption underneath states: “At Wolfe and Aliceanna streets, about 1910 (Actual 1907), a Phillip Lobe Co. vehicle speeds barrels of Ram’s Horn whiskey to saloons. Photograph courtesy Baltimore Public Works Museum.” The person seeking the information wrote me this: I am a relative of Phillip Lobe and am writing an article about his business for a national bottle collector’s magazine. I would love to use this photo in my article as well as getting a nice, clean version of the photo if possible.
Could you help me with that pursuit?
Susan Adler Davis
Since the photo came from the DPW Museum, of which I have been documenting, I was able to find a much clearer photograph. On the side of the wagon to the right, Rams Horn, it has written; Lobe and Son W. Pratt Street. The caption in my notes states: SWC 2. Wolf and Aliceanna Sts. showing gutter plates and openings.
From the same time period, you can see the obstacles that the water department faced in the installation of mains and drains. Caption in notes for the above: SWC 3. Charles and Saratoga Sts. Obstructions in trench. (Storm Water Contract #3)
More pipes to work around: SWC 3. Double 50”x69” storm water drain in Market Place at Baltimore, looking towards outlet.
So my mind wanders more times than not, but it is always fun and a pleasure to research these sort of things! I look forward to reading Ms Davis’ article.