Hampden Heritage

Archaeology, History, and Heritage in Central Baltimore

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

School Tour on a Spring Day

Today, a group of high school students from Bryn Mawr School joined me for a tour around Hampden. As many of the kids remarked, it would've been a beautiful day for a walk if it hadn't been so windy. We started at the Hampden Elementary school, looking at the frieze of which I'm so fond. We then walked down Keswick Avenue, stopping to take a look at some of rowhouse architecture as well as the old Northern District police station (shown right - before the recent renovation began).

We then headed down to the Stone Hill, where we discussed paternalism and textile manufacture before going on to check out some of the worker housing. Stopping briefly at the Mount Vernon No. 3 Mill, we talked a little bit about how mill the buildings function as control mechanisms, as well as how cotton duck was produced. We then headed up the hill along Chestnut Avenue, pointing out changes in the commercial character of the neighborhood, and noticing some of the creative uses of lawn ornamentation along the way. The tour ended at the Bank of America Mural on Elm Ave, which serves as a pretty good bookend for a tour that focuses on history and gentrification.

I really enjoy doing these tours because they give me a chance to talk about all of my thoughts about Hampden in a fairly condensed way. There's no time for political or archaeological theory, you pretty much just have to say what you think. In many ways this is very good, but it also means that I leave a lot out because the neighborhood is so dynamic and complex.

Anyway, I understand that my tour group is going to be checking out the blog in the next few days, so I hope that you guys enjoyed yourselves. I invite you to leave a comment here, or on any of the posts below. Also, please check out the project's web page, which contains, the project research design, some transcriptions of oral histories from the Baltimore Neighborhood Heritage Project, and more.


Anonymous Jason George said...

The tour was great (despite the wind). The way that you presented Hampden as a microcosm of the contemporary United States was fascinating. In what ways could that theme be explored?

Where would you see Hampden going in the next 10 to 20 years?

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Virginia said...

Thank you for our tour, it was super sweet. I liked learning about the mill, and how it was used. I'm intrigued by your dig behind that house. I hope you find some cool things in the privy hole. Good luck with everything!

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Luci said...

Thank you so much for taking us around Hampden, I really enjoyed myself. I liked checking out the site where you are digging (hope that privy proves useful)and learning about the mills. I especially liked learning about the formstone and discussing the super-sweet lawn ornaments. Thanks again, it was fun!

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Janet said...

First of all, I just wanted to thank you for showing us around Hampden. Before, I was only familiar with the commerical 36th Street part of Hampden and I really appreciate being exposed to the neighborhood on a more intimate level. From the tour, I learned that Hampden is a unique neighborhood because it is comprised of people from various backgrounds, socio-economic status, and cultures. My question for you is what you think will happen to Hampden in the next ten years. Do you think young, middle class people will continue to move into the neighborhood and if so, how will this effect Hampden's traditional, working-class families? Thanks again for your time.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Luci said...

I read Myrtle Talbott's oral history and after our tour of Hampden I noticed lots of things that I found interesting. First of all, it really struck me that her mother began working in a mill at age twelve. This surprised me considering the how dangerous she said the mills were; one mistake and you could be killed. Also, her account of the Fourth of July celebrations remind me of the frieze that we looked at in the beginning of our tour.

--A question: What is your favorite part of Hampden to show other people or students?

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Caroline said...

Yesterday's tour was very informative. I enjoyed learning about the row houses and about the economic ans social status of Hampden. I would like to know how Hampden still thrives today. Since the mills have been shut down and the silver company is no longer, what other businesses provide an incomce to this town? Also, what is your favorite part of Hampden?

11:05 AM  
Anonymous andrew said...

Yesterday i took a walking tour in hampden. I found this to be rather interesting and informative as i have never really taken the time to learn nything about my surrounding area. I actualy live in a rural area called hereford, which is a lot different than hampden. The house that is in the process of being renovated was insightful to the way people lived at that time (the mill, outhouse, fire protection, etc.). ALso, before i took the tour i never really thought of hampden as being a place of much importance, but after taking a closer look and learning about the past i found that it is actually a traditional, histyorical town.

I think Hampden can be considered a microcosm of America. The mural we looked at really summed up the history of Hampden and was very reflective of historiical America.

One question that i havev about Hampden is... When did the sort of "demise" of Hampden really start to occur? You mentioned how the police station left and crime went up, but i'm wondering if there were any other thinbgs that lead to this?

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Virginia said...

I read Luther Butler's oral history, it's interesting that when he was promoted at Martin's they offered to pay for more schooling. He went into his job with an 8th grade education and left with an education equivalent to two years in college.

question: I'd like to learn more about life in the mill, where can I find more information?

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday's walking tour with Mr. Gadspy was exceptional. It was a true treat and pleasure to be able to tour hampden with him. I loved learning more about Baltimore in its colonial years and seeing what the actual houses of that time looked at. I liked looking at the house that was being renovated because it added and extra colonial flair that was truely special. Thanks for taking the time to share Hampden with us.

I think that Hampden can be used as a micocosm of America but only in the 19th century snese.I think that it serves as a modle for the way that America can progress and does progress through many years

Where/ What do you see from Hampden in 10 years

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Cady said...

I just read Loice Foreman's oral history and it was a good follow up to our tour yesterday. She talked about a lot of the places we went and talked about her daily life, apart from her work in the mills.
I don't think Hampden is currently a microcosm of America. I do, however, feel that in the late 1800s and early 1900s Hampden was more of a microcosm than it currently is. There are parts of America that weren't represented in Hampden during that time that were keys parts of the country.

Where is your favorite place to eat in Hampden?

11:06 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Mr. Gadsby,

While I enjoyed the tour of Hampden, I still am struggling to recognize how it is set apart from other neighborhoods such as Federal Hill or Fells Point. I realize the mills and the silverware company and the old police station are landmarks in the area, but wht makes this area more famous and historic than any other?

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Hello Mr. G,
Thank you for taking us around Hampden yesterday. It was really informative. The only exposure I have had to Hampden before yesterday was 34th street during the Christmas season, so clearly this opened my eyes to a whole new aspect of the area. Since you obviously know a lot about Hampden, I thought that I would ask you about the future of the neighborhood. Where do you see Hampden in the future? For example do you think the dynamics of the neighborhood will change or do you think the working class has such a steady hold that it will keep the neighborhood traditions alive?

11:12 AM  
Anonymous darryll said...

Thank you Mr. Gadsby for touring us around Hampden.

Mr. George asked us whether or not we thought Hampden was a microcosm for the world today. Judging from the tour, I thought that there were a lot of elements to Hampden that could make it a microscosm. There were the mills, which could represent the working class, and there were the different types of row houses, some taller than others, that could represent the different social statuses of Americans. I also thought that the many churches within the community represented a strong sense of religious strength within the neighborhood. Although Hampden was mainly middle and working class, and therefore didn't depict the full depth of Americas diversity, there were aspects within it that I found sometimes represented America.

11:13 AM  
Anonymous James Merrick said...

Mr. Gadsby

Let me start by thanking you for taking time out of your day to take us around Hampden. In our class today we discussed whether or not Hampden is a microcosm of America. In my opinion, I believe this is a somewhat accurate statement. Hampden is currently a middle-working class which represents what America truly is about. Our land was made up of people who came to our country, came from nothing and through hard worked achieved so much. Hampden represents this attitude.

11:14 AM  

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