Baltimore County News
Annual Award Honoring African-American Heritage in Baltimore County
Today, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced a new Baltimore County endeavor that will take place every year during Black History Month and be presented to deserving recipients.
The award is named for Baltimore County resident Louis S. Diggs, a respected and distinguished authority on County African-American history. Diggs’ research and historical perspective has guided him to publish 10 books; organize tours in the community; present lectures; and manage the Diggs-Johnson Museum in Granite.
“No one has done more to preserve and promote African American history in Baltimore County than Mr. Louis Diggs,” stated Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “An award such as this is long overdue, and we in Baltimore County are so fortunate to have this notable expert on African American history right here in our own community.”
After surprising Diggs with the declaration of naming the award for him, Kamenetz revealed the 2016 recipients – Audrey Simmons and Ray Banks, who together brought the Hubert V. Simmons Museum for Negro Leagues Baseball to fruition.
The Simmons Museum is located in the Owings Mills library.
TV Show Highlights Black History Month, Snow Removal and Heart Healthy Tips
The February edition of Baltimore County’s half-hour cable television public affairs show, “Hello Baltimore County,” highlights the following topics:
Winter Storm Operations – Get the perspective from behind the plow from two of Baltimore County’s Snowfighters.
Black History Month Museum Tour – Join us for a video tour of the Diggs-Johnson Museum and learn about their educational programs.
Heart Healthy Tips – Baltimore County’s top doc, Director of Health and Human Services, Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., offers sound advice on preventing and treating heart disease.
To view streaming video of the show, go to the Hello Baltimore County page at http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/videogallery/hello%20baltimore%20county.
In addition to online access, the program runs several times per week on Cable Channel 25, in Baltimore County, at the following times:
Mondays: 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m.
Tuesdays: 12 p.m., 9 p.m.
Wednesdays: 11 a.m., 4 p.m., 10 p.m.
Thursdays: 1 p.m., 8 p.m.
Fridays: 11 a.m., 6 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.
Sundays: 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.
Teri Rising, Historic Preservation Planner
Department of Planning
Since 1976, Baltimore County’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has been dedicated to recognizing and preserving important structures that represent the diverse history of Baltimore County. With the assistance of citizens, numerous sites representing the important contributions of African Americans have been designated Baltimore County Landmarks. These unique places serve as physical reminders of the accomplishments of African American communities, which is especially important as many buildings associated with African American history have been lost before they could be discovered. In celebration of Black History Month, let’s highlight some of Baltimore County’s most interesting landmarks that represent its diverse history.
The “Landmark Lodge No. 40 Free and Accepted Masons” is located in the historic African American community of Winters Lane in Catonsville. Established in 1904, the lodge is affiliated with the historically significant “Prince Hall” Masonic organization and serves as a constituent Lodge of the Most Worshipful (M.W.) Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Maryland.
The building was constructed ca. 1896 for Morning Star Baptist Church and acquired by the Lodge in 1931. There are many fraternal organizational buildings in Baltimore County still intact, but few survive in African American communities. As the only active chapter of Prince Hall Freemasons meeting in the County, the Lodge serves as a historic link to African American fraternal organizations in the United States and represents an important cultural aspect of African American life, both past and present.
The small historic African American community of Chattolanee is located along Greenspring Valley Road and immediately north of the railroad grade of what was the Greenspring Branch of the Western Maryland Railroad. Developed around the establishment of the Green Spring Church, the community dwellings, including the Hazel Thomas House, built ca. 1890, are simple examples of the Gothic Revival-style that survive to tell the story of this African American settlement.
The historic community of Lutherville, best known for its collection of beautiful 19th century buildings, is also the home of The Lutherville Colored School House. Constructed ca. 1908, School No. 24, District 8, is one of the few surviving examples of school buildings constructed exclusively for African American children in Baltimore County. Although the State required Counties to provide teachers for African American children after the Civil War, most early schools shared space with other community activities. Built exclusively as a school, this sturdy building was lovingly restored and now serves as a museum dedicated to the history of African American education.
Located in Granite, the log and stone remains of the Worthington Slave Barracks survive as a physical reminder of slavery in Baltimore County. Associated with the Worthington family of Granite, Thomas Worthington and his heirs were once one of the largest land owners and slaveholders in Baltimore County, rivaled only by Charles Ridgely of Hampton. The Barracks are situated in the center of Rezin (Thomas’s son) Worthington’s 19th century landholdings along with a slave and separate family cemetery.
In the Perry Hall area of Baltimore County, the Dowden Chapel and Cemetery is a unique 19th century African American church that also once served as a school. Deeded to five African-American Trustees by Nicholas Gatch in 1853, the intent was to expand the Methodist Episcopal Church’s strong presence in Baltimore County. The current Chapel presents a unique and distinctive representation of ecclesiastical architecture from the mid-19th century that has been largely unaltered since its original construction. The cemetery has many excellent and well-preserved examples of home crafted grave markers that demonstrate the considerable effort, artistic endeavor and skills of the African Americans who created them. Although the Chapel is no longer officially affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Trustees responsible for the care of the Chapel and cemetery still maintain the building and grounds for the use of its congregation. Once a year the Chapel is opened for a homecoming for its many generations of members.
The Ernest Lyon Nursery School building was constructed ca. 1945 on a dedicated lot within the Ernest Lyon Defense Housing Project in Turner Station. The project was developed under the Federal Works Administration to address the housing needs of defense workers who were employed at the Sparrows Point plant of Bethlehem Steel. Intended specifically for African American families, the complex and community buildings were designed by noted African American architect Hilyard R. Robinson, who was a pioneer in incorporating modern architectural styles into public housing projects and believed these well designed buildings would improve the quality of life for African Americans. As war housing was being sold or demolished, the Federal government sold the building to the Turner Station Progressive Association in 1953. The building continued to serve the residents as a branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, a YMCA, and as a post for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The structure is an important surviving example of the childcare works completed under the Lanham Act; the first time government supported pre-school was subsidized for all children, regardless of race or financial need. It is also the only surviving example in Baltimore County.
To learn more about Baltimore County Landmarks and Historic Districts, you can find us on the web at baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/planning/historic_preservation.
Plus, you can visit the Enjoy Baltimore County Tourism website for a schedule of inspiring programs celebrating Black History Month.