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.
Teri Rising, Historic Preservation Planner
Department of Planning
May is Preservation Month! Since 1973, this annual event organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation provides an opportunity for communities and organizations to showcase how they celebrate and save historic places all year long. Exploring Baltimore County’s historic spaces is a great way to highlight the efforts of those who have worked hard to preserve the places that matter for Baltimore County.
In 1981, the community of Glyndon became the first Baltimore County Historic District designated through the joint effort of residents, interested citizens and the Baltimore County Landmarks Preservation Commission. Now there are eleven residential districts, each one set aside for the purpose of preserving, promoting and protecting the unique aspects of their neighborhood so they can tell a story about why they were created. With their carefully preserved architectural styles and distinctive features, Baltimore County’s Historic Districts offer residents a variety of beautiful and interesting places to live. From Emory Grove in Glyndon to the Town Hall in Relay, the preservation of the homes and buildings that characterize these districts, provide a sense of place and source of civic pride to those who work tirelessly to preserve their community.
Whether you are doing homework or paperwork, historic buildings offer unique spaces that provide creative inspiration to those who work there. All over Baltimore County historic buildings have been adaptively reused and rehabilitated to serve the needs of a new generation. Examples include the former Fullerton Police & Fire Station, adaptively reused for the 6th District office of the Baltimore County Council, and the original Baltimore County Jail in Towson, whose former cells now provide office space to businesses instead of law breakers. Baltimore County’s collection of historic schools, like the former Franklin Academy building in Reisterstown, now the Reisterstown branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, and the Carver School in East Towson, now the East Towson Carver Community Center, have been adaptively reused for the purpose of offering community services. Finding creative ways to use our historic buildings has helped enhance the artistic, cultural, and historical characteristics of our Baltimore County neighborhoods.
Baltimore County’s many historic parks provide interesting places for recreation and learning opportunities. They also serve as important places for communities to come together. Through the joint efforts of neighbors, community activists, and the Baltimore County Government, these parks have been thoughtfully set aside so citizens have a place to explore and discover Baltimore County history.
Visitors to the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum will learn about the life of Benjamin Banneker. Considered to be the first African American man of science, exhibits and artifacts provide additional information on his important historic contributions. At Cromwell Valley Park, visitors can follow trails that lead them to preserved farm buildings and remnants from our agricultural and industrial past. Maintaining these historic parks provide places that matter for generations to enjoy.
Teri Rising, Historic Preservation Planner
Department of Planning
While it is hard to believe today, educational opportunities for young women were not readily available during the mid-19th century in the United States. In Baltimore County, we are fortunate to have several historic schools that were founded for the primary purpose of educating young women. These institutions were made possible by the shared vision of women and religious organizations who provided the resources necessary for their establishment. While their historic campuses feature a variety of 19th century architectural styles, together they tell a story of those who dedicated their lives to the mission of educating young women. In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s learn about some of these historically significant schools.
Just outside of historic Reisterstown is the former Hannah More Academy campus which was established in 1832. Built on land donated by Mrs. Ann Neilson, the former girls’ Episcopal boarding and day school provided education to young women until it merged with Saint Timothy’s School in Greenspring Valley in 1974. While the original school buildings were lost to fire in 1857, the school was rebuilt and today houses various nonprofit offices and recreational space. Located on the campus is the Gothic Revival board and batten Saint Michael’s Chapel, a National Register property and Baltimore County Landmark.
The Mount de Sales Academy has been educating young women within the walls of its historic campus in Catonsville since 1852. Organized by the Sisters of the Visitation, this was the first Catholic institution in Baltimore County to provide educational opportunities to young women of all religions and backgrounds. The school is also significant as the oldest educational facility in the County still actively in use for its original purpose. The 19th century collection of campus buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places and the Baltimore County Landmarks List.
Oldfields School is situated in the former village of Glencoe that grew with the arrival of the railroad in 1838. Located near the Gunpowder River, Oldfields School was founded by Mrs. Anna Austen McCulloch in 1867. The school began in her mid-19th century double tenant house, now a Baltimore County Landmark, and referred to on campus as the “Old House”. Unlike many early schools for young women, Oldfields was not affiliated with any particular denomination and was known for its progressive curriculum which featured subjects and activities not easily found in other institutions of the time.
To learn more about the history of women’s education along with these historic schools:
Revised April 6, 2016