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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: history

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.


photo of Fieldstone communityIn 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.


photo of former Baltimore County Jail in TowsonWhether 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.

photo of Banneker Museum and Park 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.

montage of imagesTeri 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. 

photo of Mount de SalesThe 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.

photo of Oldfields SchoolOldfields 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. 

Further Reading-

To learn more about the history of women’s education along with these historic schools:

National Women’s History Museum – The History of Women and Education

Baltimore County’s National Register properties

Baltimore County’s Final Landmarks

Mount De Sales Academy

Oldfields School

Baltimore County Tourism logoTeri 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.

photo of Landmark LodgeThe 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.

photo of Hazel Thomas HouseThe 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. 

photo of Lutherville Colored SchoolThe 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.  

photo of Worthington Slave BarracksLocated 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. 


photo of Dowden ChapelIn 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.

photo of Lyon SchoolThe 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

Plus, you can visit the Enjoy Baltimore County Tourism website for a schedule of inspiring programs celebrating Black History Month.

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