Tagged: historic

1318 Druid Hill Avenue: Historic Blight

Property Address: 1318 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner: Janice Stanton Hines, 3339 Charleston Street, Houston, TX 77021

City Council District and Contact: District 11, Eric T. Costello

State Senator: Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

State Delegate:  Keith Haynes

The current owner of this home (a lawyer, no less) was jailed in Michigan, in 2010, for stealing $800,000 from her mother, who was 95 at the time. She was released in August of the same year, after repaying the money. In 2011, she sued family members, but the case was dismissed for failure to pay the $175 filing fee.

1318 Druid Hill Avenue is the former home of Henry Sythe Cummings, one of the first two African-American men to graduate from the University of Maryland School of Law. He lived in the home from 1911 until 1917, when he suffered a stroke and died. He was also the first African American Baltimore City Councilman. His legacy should be preserved, including this home — it’s a shame the out of town slumlord owner probably won’t be back to make needed repairs.

Sorry for the lousy photo, but there was no way to get a good shot, due to the overgrown tree in front.

1318 Druid Hill Avenue

1318 Druid Hill Avenue

City-Owned Historic Blight: 1326 Druid Hill Avenue

Property Address: 1326 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner: Mayor and City Council, 417 E Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

City Council District and Contact: District 11, Eric T. Costello

State Senator: Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

State Delegate:  Keith Haynes

Yet another Upton home going to waste, this time at the hands of the City. In this home lived the first African-American member of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Finishers’ Association, Local 155. Mr. David Leigh was granted membership in 1940, after trying for several years. An article about his acceptance into the union was published in The Afro-American.

The home is available through Vacants to Value, however — the home immediately next to it is not, and it’s in even worse shape. Hard to imagine anyone buying it and doing any sort of quality work on the home when it’s in danger of whatever happens to the property next door.

1326 Druid Hill Avenue

1326 Druid Hill Avenue

1402 Druid Hill Avenue

Property Address: 1402 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner:  CAV Commercial, LLC, 8715 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21236

Resident Agent for CAV Commercial, LLC: Gary W. Waicker, same address

City Council District and Contact: District 11, Eric T. Costello

State Senator: Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

State Delegate:  Keith Haynes

This home is another example of flawed SDAT information. The home is listed on SDAT as being owned by the Mayor and City Council — yet it was sold to Gary Waicker’s company, CAV Commercial, LLC.  What’s really odd is that the Waickers (Gary and his wife Diane) owned the home in the early and mid-1990s, and gave it to the city in lieu of taxes owed. Then they re-purchased the home in 2010, only to let it remain a vacant eyesore.

1402 SDAT information

1402 Druid Hill Avenue SDAT information

1402 Druid Hill Avenue

1402 Druid Hill Avenue

You would think the City would have learned the first time — considering the number of foreclosures and lead paint lawsuits filed against Mr. Waicker, selling the home to him wouldn’t be the best idea. Also interesting to note that Mr. Waicker sued the Baltimore City Paper for calling him a “slumlord”, and lost that lawsuit.

This neighborhood contains some of the most storied names in Baltimore’s civil rights history — and some interesting people owned this home at one time. In 1911, a New York newspaper, the New York Age, published a story about the home’s owners, Mr. and Mrs. A.T. Waller:

Mr. and Mrs. A.T. Waller have taken up residence in Brooklyn, where Mrs. Waller will prosecute her claim in the estate of her great-grandfather, William Jarvis. The property, which is in Greater New York and Long Island, is said to be in the hands of some rich whites, but that their title is said to be defective. It is valued at several million dollars. William Jarvis was a white man, who clandestinely married a colored woman. His property passed into the hands of white relatives at his death. Mrs. Waller and several others now claim it as lineal descendants. Mrs. Waller is a member of the well-known Jarvis family of Brooklyn and is very hopeful of establishing her claim, which will be contested in the courts in the near future. John W. Rich, chief clerk in the legal department of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, has leased the home of Mr. and Mrs. Waller, at 1402 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore. Mr. Waller has just resigned his position as a salesman for Castleberg Bros., a well-known Baltimore jewelers.

I could find no further information about the Wallers, and whether Mrs. Waller was successful in her legal challenge, though I’m dying to know how the story turned out!

WWJD? Church-Owned Blight: 1232 and 1234 Druid Hill Avenue

Property Address: 1232 and 1234 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner: Bethel AME Church, 1300 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21217

City Council District and Contact: District 11, Eric T. Costello

State Senator: Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

State Delegate:  Keith Haynes

The rear of 1234 has collapsed, due in part to years of neglect. The church has owned these two properties for decades, and there are no current permits on 1232 or 1234 — the last one expired in April.

1232 and 1234 Druid Hill Avenue

1232 and 1234 Druid Hill Avenue

1234 Druid Hill Avenue, side view.

1234 Druid Hill Avenue, side view.

 

429 Mosher Street

Property Address: 429 Mosher Street, Baltimore, MD 21217

Property Owner: Marion Blackwell, 421 Mosher Street, Baltimore, MD 21217

City Council District and Contact: District 11, Eric T. Costello

State Senator: Shirley Nathan-Pulliam

State Delegate:  Keith Haynes

429 Mosher Street

429 Mosher Street

429 Mosher Street, side view

429 Mosher Street, side view

The city filed for receivership of this property in November of last year, and it’s still in poor condition. Hopefully the receivership will go through and the property can be sold to a responsible owner who will do something with it before it falls over. The great irony of this property is the fact that it’s owned by a former CHAP commissioner — the very people who are supposed to protect our historic architecture.

A Dying Piece of Baltimore’s Industrial History: 611-661 S Monroe Street

If you’ve ever driven down Monroe Street to Washington Boulevard, you’ve seen this forlorn building next to the bridge:

611-661 S Monroe Street

611-661 S Monroe Street

The brick wall is crumbing, and the building has been in disrepair for years.  On first glance, it appears to be just another one of Baltimore’s many vacant properties, left to rot over the decades.  However, a little research shows this isn’t just any property — it has historic significance, ties to a famous local family, and deserves to be recognized and celebrated.

History

The building was built in the late 19th century, as the headquarters and manufacturing center for the Alma Manufacturing Company, the first company in the United States to make steel buttons and fasteners for clothing.  The company held several patents for their work, among them No. 963,193 and No. 934,136, for buckles.

On the property were long, low mill and multi-story and high-ceiling manufacturing buildings, situated near the rail tracks.

Former site of the Alma Manufacturing Company

Former site of the Alma Manufacturing Company, as seen from S Monroe Street

Alma Manufacturing signage still remains on one of the buildings next to the rail tracks

Alma Manufacturing signage still remains on one of the buildings next to the rail tracks

The Alma Manufacturing company was founded by a German immigrant, Herman Kerngood, in 1887. At the beginning of the 20th century, Herman Kerngood formed a partnership with Moses Hecht, Benjamin F. Hecht, Nathan I. Hecht, S.B. Sonneborn, and Isaac Blum, to establish the American Steel Buckle Company, Inc. with an authorized capital stock of $1000.  The Hechts were of the same family that started Hecht Brothers and the Hecht Company chain of department stores in the Baltimore-Washington region, starting with a used furniture store founded by Samuel Hecht, in 1857.

The company was taken over by Herman’s sons after his death, and then sold to another manufacturing company in 1946.

Source:  Maryland Historical Trust, Inventory of Historic Properties
Source:  Industrial Development and Manufacturer’s Record, July 20, 1905
Source:  Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, Volume CLVI, July 1910
Source:  Baltimore Sun, August 2010 “Shopping in Fells Point at Hecht’s Reliable Store” by Jacques Kelly
Source:  Baltimore Heritage: Hecht-May Company
Recent Years

Sometime around 1983, the complex was purchased by one Mahendra “Mike” Shah, who named the industrial center “Shah Industrial Park”.  One of its tenants at that time was the Naron Candy Company.

611-661 S Monroe Street, 1983 (Photo from the Maryland Historical Trust)

611-661 S Monroe Street, 1983 (Photo from the Maryland Historical Trust)

In 1996, the complex burned to the ground in one of the worst fires in SW Baltimore.  It was later determined by the court that Shah had committed numerous counts of insurance fraud, arson, mail and wire fraud violations, and money laundering.  He was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison, in 2004.  In 2006, Shah sought to overturn his conviction, but the US Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, denied his appeal.

Currently, the property is owned by a graphic artist and his wife, having purchased the property in 2009.  I reached out to them twice to find out what they intend to do with the property — once two weeks ago, and then again this morning.  Hopefully they’ll respond.  It’s a terrible shame to see such an important property fall into an even greater state of disrepair.

Larger view of an original Alma Manufacturing building

Larger view of an original Alma Manufacturing building

View of the complex from the rail tracks

View of the complex from the rail tracks

 

 

Link Roundup

Lots of good stuff in the news this week!

In the Baltimore Sun, Luke Broadwater reports the Housing Authority of Baltimore City has disbanded and laid off its Housing Security Unit.  These were the folks responsible for “investigating illegal occupants, nuisance activity, unsecured vacants and vandalism”, according to the article.

Developer Mark Manzo wanted to demolish part of a historic 19th Century church to make way for a parking lot for his new townhouses in Butcher’s Hill.  According to this Baltimore Brew article, the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) denied the petition, as several neighbors, and District 13 Councilman Warren Branch protested the effort.  One neighbor called the townhouses “boring”.

Vacants are everywhere, including Japan, says Business Insider.

Since you can’t talk about vacants without mentioning Detroit… S&P has downgraded Wayne County’s credit rating to two steps above “junk”, says Bloomberg.  That’s gotta hurt.

You can’t really talk about vacants without mentioning Baltimore or HUD, either — and the Baltimore Sun reports that HUD is shrinking its Baltimore office staff by one-third, as part of a consolidation effort.

In the UK, investors and landlords are being targeted by mortgage scammers.

Speaking of the UK, Britain’s biggest mortgage fraudster was given an extra four years in prison for conspiring to defraud two banks of £61 million, according to the London Evening Standard.  One of his previous scams was selling bogus manorial titles to Americans.

Dozens of homes in New Orleans were moved and then left to deteriorate, at taxpayer expense, according to WWLVT Channel 4.  The nonprofit in charge of renovating the homes, Builders of Hope, is no longer involved in the project.  If you recall, the Baltimore Sun reported back in 2012, the same nonprofit was supposed to partner with Ray Lewis to renovate 500 homes in Baltimore, and that seems to have gone nowhere.

You know life has taken a bad turn when the feds are busting down the door, looking for your 40+ year old son who’s living in your basement.  Van Smith from the City Paper reports on former deputy mayor and state delegate Salima Siler Marriott’s latest woes.

And speaking of the feds — Philadelphia’s notorious “Slumlord Millionaire” Robert Coyle is on his way to the pokey after defrauding a couple of banks.  Nevermind the fact that he’s allegedly swindled people in his “rent to own” schemes, and forced citizens in the Kensington neighborhood of Philly to live next to his blighted nasty homes…oh, and how about the fact that he treated his tenants worse than animals and forced some of them to live without plumbing or heat?  But hey — he defrauded a couple of banks, so off to the clink he goes!

Because sometimes I like to save the best for last…

The man who raped a 13 year old girl in a vacant home (owned at the time by disbarred attorney John Reiff) has been sentenced to four life sentences.  Count ’em — 1-2-3-4.  I would say justice has been served quite nicely — I hope he also has to pay for the counseling the survivor will need to be able to move past such a horror.