So you thought Fells Point was all about bars, boats and...


March 13, 1997|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,SUN STAFF

So you thought Fells Point was all about bars, boats and "Homicide," the television series.

Well, yes. It is about all those things, but it seems there is more to the historic Baltimore waterfront neighborhood. The community has also played host to the movies "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Avalon" and can be seen in the not-yet-released movie "Washington Square."

This being such a Hollywood-fixated country, why isn't someone taking advantage of Fells Point's movie connection? Somebody is.

This weekend, weather permitting, the curtain goes up on "Hollywood on the Harbor."

It's an approximately two-hour walking tour around Fells Point, taking in various film locations and other bits of local flavor. The walking tour is run by the Admiral Fell Inn along with Concierge Plus, Inc., an agency that specializes in planning and running meetings and events.

A few weekends ago, there was an interesting and somewhat damp trial run of "Hollywood on the Harbor," headed by Jason Lempka, of Concierge Plus.

Lempka, as you might imagine, was up on his history of the community.

"A lot of the buildings are still some of the original ones," he said, leading a small group through a torrential downpour to the corner of Shakespeare Street and Broadway -- a corner, he said, that will be seen in "Washington Square."

"It is a movie starring Jenifer Jason Leigh and Albert Finney," Lempka said. However, it will not be obvious that Fells Point is the movie's location, he explained.

"It is intended to be set in the 1800s in New York," he said. "Washington Square," a Disney film, is a historical drama scheduled for release around November or December of this year.

Moving on, we came to the corner of Broadway and Thames Street, where a scene from "Sleepless in Seattle" was filmed. The rowhouse at 904 S. Broadway was supposed to be the home of the character named Annie.

The house is near a bench overlooking the water. "Annie, the Meg Ryan character, sat on the bench on the wharf as she contemplated the man she would fall in love with," Lempka said.

Lempka will also point out little nuggets of information about the old seaport community that aren't connected to the Hollywood scene or the movies. For instance, Lempka noted a nearby building that "used to be a house of ill repute."

After seeing some places where Barry Levinson's "Avalon" was filmed, we eventually wound our way around to what is probably the centerpiece of the tour -- the faux police station for the television series "Homicide."

"As some of you may know, 'Homicide' is set in Baltimore," said Lempka, who was proudly sporting a "Homicide" sweat shirt.

The building is next to the harbor. The front is used for exterior shots of the police station. Sound stages have been built inside the building, which is not open to the public.

"Anytime you see a scene where they are fishing a body out of the water, it's here," said Lempka, pointing to the murky water.

Also of interest to die-hard "Homicide" fans is the Daily Grind coffee shop. "It has never actually been used in the series, but they often talk about getting a cup of coffee from there. Or you will see a coffee cup from the Daily Grind sitting on somebody's desk," he said. The Daily Grind is at 1726 Thames St.

One "Homicide" location on the tour is St. Stanislaus Church, which has been used in numerous "Homicide" scenes, said John Braithwaite, the church's property manager.

Recently, it was used for the baptism of the daughter of the character played by Andre Braugher.

In "Homicide's" third season, the church was used for a funeral scene. "They brought the casket for the funeral to the church in a U-Haul truck," Braithwaite said. Not everyone knew there was lTC filming going on inside. "People [who saw the casket being unloaded from the truck] said it was the cheapest funeral they have ever seen!"

A basement hall of St. Stanislaus is where the cast and crew eat when they are filming.

The tour ends with a lunch at the Waterfront Hotel and Restaurant. Those familiar with the series know a few of the characters own a bar, and the Waterfront Hotel and Restaurant is where those scenes are filmed.

The Facts

WHAT: "Hollywood on the Harbor." A two-hour, guided walking tour

WHEN: Saturdays and Sundays at 11: 30 a.m.

WHERE: Fells Point, departing from the Admiral Fell Inn at Broadway and Thames Street

TICKETS: $25 per person includes, tour, lunch and souvenirs. Overnight packages are also available, including the tour, accommodations at the Admiral Fell Inn and dinner for two, at $315 for one night and $470 for two nights, each based on double occupancy

CALL: (410) 547-0479 for walking tour only; (410) 522-7377 for the package deals

Pub Date: 3/13/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.