Who was who in Bolton Hill

History: A group plans to put up signs in the neighborhood to mark where famous folks once made their homes.

Architecture

December 17, 2001|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN ARCHITECTURE CRITIC

Over the years, Baltimore's Bolton Hill neighborhood has been home to such national figures as writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, entertainer Garry Moore and President Woodrow Wilson.

But short of taking a local history course, neither occasional visitors nor longtime residents have an easy way of knowing who lived where.

To foster better appreciation of the neighborhood's rich history, several residents are developing plans to erect a series of plaques that will designate houses where nationally important figures once lived.

Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, which monitors changes to building exteriors in the Bolton Hill historic district, this month approved preliminary plans to add plaques to the houses selected by the residents' committee.

Executive director Kathleen Kotarba said CHAP's staff sees the program as "an excellent model ... for other neigh- borhoods to interpret their history."

Bolton Hill's group is led by Frank Shivers and Polly Duke, neighbors in the 1400 block of Bolton Street. They are working with another area resident, graphic designer Ellen Lupton, to create a series of dark blue metal plaques, 10 inches in diameter, that will bear the names, dates and professions or achievements of the individuals they want to recognize.

The plaques will be placed on the front facades of the houses where the figures lived, about 15 feet off the ground. The group also intends to publish a map with a complete list of designated houses and additional information about the former residents and the neighborhood, where many buildings date from the mid-19th century.

"I think it's important for us to generate some interest and pride" in the neighborhood, Shivers said. "When you walk around, you'll see them and feel like you're in a special place."

Shivers, a historian and educator, said he got the idea for the plaques from London, which has a similar program, and asked Duke to help him carry it out. They've compiled a list of several dozen people who lived in Bolton Hill and gained national prominence in various fields, and are open to further suggestions.

The individuals, all of whom are deceased, include writer Gerald Johnson, who lived at 1310 Bolton St.; former Johns Hopkins University president Daniel Coit Gilman, who lived at 1300 Eutaw Place, and the art-collecting Cone sisters, Claribel and Etta, who lived at 1711 Eutaw Place.

Also, author Edith Hamilton, 1312 Park Ave.; philanthropist Jacob Epstein, 1731 Park Ave., and Col. Charles Marshall, who lived at 1214 Eutaw Place and served as the military secretary of Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Some lived in Bolton Hill for many years, while others stayed relatively briefly.

Fitzgerald, for example, lived at 1307 Park Ave. from 1933 to 1935, when he was finishing Tender Is the Night. He moved to Baltimore with his wife, Zelda, who received mental health treatment at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital during the weekdays and would spend the weekends in Bolton Hill.

The Fitzgeralds later moved to Asheville, N.C., when Zelda began treatment at a hospital there. A description of their Park Avenue residence can be found in The Crack-Up, a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald published in 1945, five years after his death.

The Bolton Hill group has received a $500 grant from the Mount Royal Improvement Association as seed money for its project and will soon begin seeking private donations to cover the cost of fabricating and installing the plaques, which cost about $170 each.

It hopes to raise at least $5,000 and install 12 to 15 plaques initially. None will be put up without permission from the buildings' current owners.

"It's a big thing in London," Shivers said of the plaque program there. "I'm glad we're moving ahead with ours."

Architects honored

Japanese architect Tadao Ando, 60, has been named to receive the 2002 Gold Medal of the American Institute of Architects, the organization's highest individual honor.

The Atlanta-based firm of Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates has been selected to receive the 2002 Architecture Firm Award. Both awards will be presented at a dinner in Washington next March.

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