Memories of old Bolton Hill continue to live on among Baltimore residents

July 12, 2008|By Jacques Kelly

David Roszel was on an evening walk along Lafayette Avenue in Bolton when he spotted me last Saturday night. In a subsequent conversation, he presented a version of the events that led to the Howard Street Bridge's construction in the late 1930s, a topic discussed in this column a few weeks ago.

As a boy, he remembered his father awakening him and then watching the smoke and fire in the early morning of Jan. 13, 1933, as the 5th Regiment Armory burned. He said the heavy damage the Armory incurred - and the subsequent reconstruction - led to changes in the southern flank of Bolton Hill a few years later.

After the armory burned, the city condemned and tore down houses on Hoffman Street, from Jenkins Alley to Mason Street. "This made a plaza, where the Guard could drill outside," he said.

Other structures in the community came down for the nearby extension of Howard Street and the Howard Street Bridge, which opened for traffic Jan. 12, 1939.

My discussion of old Bolton Hill brought several other responses, among them a note from Elliott Cummings, who lived at 1527 John St. "Like much of the area, it no longer exists. I grew up on the fringes of Bolton Hill. My grandmother called the Howard Street Bridge the 'New Bridge.' She remembered the North Avenue Bridge being built about 1893. There used to be a large brass plaque with the date near the north end of the Howard Street Bridge, but it is gone now."

He attended Public School No. 14, Sidney Lanier, at Linden Avenue and Wilson Street. "It is also gone. There was a food store there after about 1960," he said. He also recalled the old Boys' Latin School near Mount Royal Station. "Some of the more well-to-do children went there. I would watch them play lacrosse on the concrete school yard."

There was no shortage of activity for children.

"Like many children in the area, I went to the Saturday movies at the Linden at North and Linden avenues. I also went to all the theaters along North Avenue - the Rialto, the Parkway, the Center and the Aurora. At one time, Linden Avenue ran south from North Avenue to about the 5th Regiment Armory. The old Western Maryland Dairy was down that way. We would watch the crates and bottles on the conveyor belts. ... My family left there in August 1952, and as they say in Avalon, we moved to the suburbs."

Herschel Budlow reported that his parents, Ida and Meyer Budlow, operated their grocery store in the area for more than 40 years.

The city wanted the spot where his parents' store sat for Mount Royal Elementary School. "They relocated to Bolton and Mosher where the institution known as Budlow's Market continued to enhance my parents' reputations for friendliness, integrity, honesty and compassion in their operation of their small grocery."

He got to know the neighborhood households via the kitchen door.

"As a young child delivering groceries in my little wagon (and later an old woody), I met many local journalists, famous Hopkins docs, art school profs, symphony orchestra musicians, and, of course - some of the local lushes and intellectual wannabes," he said.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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