Tours emphasize maritime history

Outside: sports, activities, events

April 08, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

From Fort McHenry to the old Shot Tower, Baltimore abounds with monuments and historic buildings.

And though these sites are definitive reminders of the city's past, there are other spots where history comes alive, said Preservation Society Executive Director Ellen von Karajan.

The trendy neighborhood of Fells Point, she noted, still echoes the tales of yesteryear.

"Most people just don't realize ... what a very richly historic place Fells Point really is," she said. "There is so much here that just isn't known, even by Baltimoreans."

For those interested in learning about the historical and cultural importance of the waterside village, von Karajan's group offers maritime history tours.

Held on second and fourth Saturdays from April to October, the programs are led by a local guide who provides information about the neighborhood and its former residents.

The lives of sea captains, sail-makers, shipbuilders and artisans are chronicled during the noontime walking tours, which usually run for about an hour and a half.

"There's a lot of history down here that's based on the Chesapeake Bay. But since the shipyards are not here [anymore] ... houses become your main props. [I] use the houses and the people who lived in those houses to try to create or re-create the story of Fells Point," said Geoffrey M. Footner, a local historian and author who also serves as one of the tour's guides.

Warehouses, residences and other structures on Broadway, Ann and Wolfe streets are just a few of the stopping points on his roughly 15-block route.

But "the stress is not on a sort of architectural description; [it's] on a social description of the community," said Footner, who has been researching bay history since the early 1980s.

Director von Karajan also pointed out that the structured programs provide information on the role of Fells Point in American military conflicts, including the Revolutionary War and in the War of 1812.

These twice-monthly tours begin at noon at the Fells Point Visitor Center, at 808 S. Ann St. Reservations are recommended, and group rates are available. The cost is $12 per person. The Maritime History Tour runs every Saturday through Oct. 23. For more information, call 410-675-6750 or visit

Preservation Society lecture series

This month, the Preservation Society presents a Thursday night lecture series on local history.

Below is a list of topics, times and dates. Tickets are $10 per person, per session, or $30 per person for the entire session. For information on purchasing tickets, call the society at 410-675-6750.

Tonight: "Revolution!"

Historian and author Geoffrey M. Footner will lecture on life as it was in Fells Point before and during the Revolutionary War, and historian-author Donald Shomette will lead a talk on Commodore Joshua Barney, one of the period's war heroes. This 7:30 p.m. discussion will take place at the Polish National Alliance, 1627 Eastern Ave.

April 15: "The Schooner Trade"

Maritime historian Fred Hopkins will provide information on how these Clipper ships impacted local and global trade, and author Christopher T. George will lecture on Baltimore and the War of 1812.

This 7:30 p.m. lecture will be held at the Polish National Alliance, 1627 Eastern Ave.

April 22: "Patterson Park in the War of 1812"

Historian-author Geoffrey M. Footner and Fort McHenry National Park Service historian Scott Sheads will discuss details of the battle and the role of this land in military strategy.

This 7:30 p.m. program will take place at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave.

April 29: "At Home in Fells Point"

Among other things, this session will include a panel discussion on the restoration and preservation of local architecture.

This 7:30 p.m. discussion will be held at the Polish National Alliance, 1627 Eastern Ave.

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