November 9, 2017 - Neighborhood Tour
On the final Friday of every month, Live Baltimore heads out of the office and into one of Baltimore's 278 neighborhoods. Each month, we love what we find! Not only did we get to explore the awesome Greenmount West neighborhood, we added a spooky element and ventured into the Green Mount Cemetery.
Our October Final Friday tour took place on a brisk Thursday morning in Green Mount Cemetery to get our staff excited for Halloween. Located adjacent to the Greenmount West neighborhood, the Green Mount Cemetery is filled with local history and home to many gravesites of famous, influential Baltimoreans. We were excited to see what kinds of stories are laid to rest in the cemetery.
The Live Baltimore team kicked the morning off with warm drinks and pastries at the Greenmount Coffee Lab, snugly placed inside Open Works on Greenmount Avenue. We were greeted by Tiersa Sullivan, an employee at Open Works. During our quick chat, we learned about what makes the facility special. While it serves as a maker space that offers affordable, rental studio space for creative locals, it also hosts classes to people who want to learn or improve their crafting skills. Sullivan explained that Open Works has 250 members, a library of tools and enough space for artists to explore woodworking, digital media, sewing, embroidery and other creative trades.
“Visitors do not have to be members to take certain classes such as textiles,” Sullivan said. However, anyone interested in the more intricate workshops must obtain safety clearances. Open Works offers clearance from levels one to three depending on the trade.
Art in Strange Places
After fueling up on coffee, we ventured across the street from Open Works to meet Baltimore’s permanent residents of Green Mount Cemetery. Built in the 18th century, the cemetery was designed to resemble a park in the countryside, said Wayne Schaumburg, a Green Mount Cemetery historian and our tour guide. He helped our team navigate through sixty-eight acres of morbidly beautiful landscape and provided a narrated historic tour along the way. Roughly 67,000 people are buried in the grounds, which is equivalent to filling nearly every seat in the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium.
When the cemetery first opened, it cost $100 to buy a plot and in 1839, that was a heaping amount of money! Many working class people were not able to purchase necessities, let alone a grave plot for such an extravagant price. Even to this day, it is expensive to buy a plot in this world-renowned, historic graveyard.
Many famous Baltimoreans rest here such as one of the founders of The Baltimore Sun and his wife. A.S. and Mary Abell are two of the most widely known graves that are visited in the cemetery. If you look closely at their grave, you’ll see the four seasons represented by the type of flowers adorning it. Ironically, Mary didn’t have her birthdate installed on the stone slab to signify the old saying “a woman never tells her age,” even in death.
Another notable Baltimorean we visited was Johns Hopkins. Named after his grandmother’s maiden name, his sisters and brother-in-law are forever close to him as they lay in a horizontal row beside each other. Hopkins had a university and hospital named in his honor after his death in 1873 for his massive financial contributions. We were also introduced to other notable Baltimoreans including suffragist Mary Elizabeth Garrett, Moses Sheppard, Enoch Pratt, John B. Lanthrobe, William and Ellen Walters and, one of the most popular graveyard residents: the creator of the Ouija board William Fuld. Schaumburg made mention that Green Mount Cemetery is also thought to be the final resting place of the infamous John Wilkes Booth, but no one truly knows where.
The architecture of each tombstone was brilliantly crafted to live on for generations. As the world around the cemetery progressed, the graves remained a staple of the time in which they were built. The finesse of the masonry and cement work involved is truly remarkable.
Artists Overlook the Graves
As our cemetery tour came to a cold end, we strolled back across Greenmount Avenue to check out the City Arts and City Arts 2 communities. These beautifully-crafted buildings finished in 2010 and 2016 respectively, have a multitude of amenities for their creative residents. A media center, dance studio, art gallery and many other features were included in the buildings for artists of all different talents to enjoy. These affordable apartments are home to photographers, painters and all kinds of performers. The communities boast display space for artists to showcase their work and officials review portfolios before residents can call City Arts home to ensure residents are truly serious artists.
Upon arrival in City Arts, we were greeted by Ashley Johnson and Zev Schecter. Right away, we took in a whiff of that new building scent reminiscent of teakwood. Our staff piled into the elevator to take a peek at some of the units in the building. When getting off on each floor we loved how the walls were marked with a bigger than life-size numbers of the level you’re on. We were surprised at how spacious the units are and were happy to see that several units enjoy a beautiful view of Green Mount Cemetery while others face the mural in the alley. The community spaces and the programming offer classes and informational sessions of all kinds making the City Arts buildings truly inspiring for creative minds to collaborate.