It seems like an old building in Baltimore is being re-purposed for a new use every day – a bank lobby turned into a workout gym (10 Light Street), an underwear manufacturing space turned into an art gallery (Maryland Art Place) and a 1920s Pontiac dealership turned into a food-and-drink-based community space (R.House).
But some of these old city structures are still being used as they have been for years, and photographer Jennifer Bishop encountered a couple of these long-lived institutions when she participated in the third annual Doors Open Baltimore event on Saturday.
The Institute of Notre Dame, for instance, is still a school for girls, just as it was when its building at 901 Aisquith Street was completed in 1852 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, its founders.
Wearing their plaid uniform skirts, some of today’s students were on hand when Bishop stopped in and learned the Institute’s interesting story.
For instance, it is the oldest American girls’ school still located at its original site. Prominent alumnae include U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (daughter and brother of former Baltimore mayors Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. and Thomas D’Alesandro III).
Textiles and Toothbrushes
Sponsored by the American Institute of Architects Baltimore and the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, Doors Open this year gave the public a chance to poke around in 61 buildings – structures that in some cases date back to the 18th century.
Another building Bishop saw that is functioning pretty much as it originally did is the Lithuanian Hall at 851 Hollins Street. Completed in 1921, the building is still a cultural and social center for Lithuanians.
Two other buildings that Bishop visited have a future that’s pretty different from their past.
The Whitehall Mill, once a textile factory on the Jones Falls, is being converted into apartments, offices and retail space. Dating back to the 1860s, it has had a number of tenants over the decades, including Purity Paper Vessels and I. Sekine Co., a Japanese toothbrush manufacturer.
Another stop on Bishop’s tour was Housewerks Architectural Salvage at 1415 Bayard Street, once the valve house for Chesapeake Gas Works. The building, dating back to 1885, has a lot of fine architectural details, including ornamental plaster and woodwork, fireplaces and Palladian windows.
But judging by her photos, Bishop was more interested in the oddball items on sale inside: stuffed goat heads, vintage toy tractors and bas relief nudes.