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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fell's Point Neighborhood and the Preservation Society, Baltimore, Maryland

Ann Street showing the Robert Long House (left), garden, and Preservation Society (right)

The Preservation Society of Baltimore is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is "to preserve and renew Fell's Point and Federal Hill as areas of historical and architectural significance for the benefit of local residents and businesses and the education and enjoyment of visitors and the public at large."

The society was founded in 1967 to stop the extension of Interstate 95 across the Inner Harbor. A ten year advocacy effort followed, preventing highway expansion from destroying the Fell's Point and Federal Hill neighborhoods. To accomplish this the society led the effort to have both communities listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fell's Point became a National Register Historic District in 1969, making it only the second historic district in the United States. Federal Hill received that designation a year later in 1970.

The Preservation Society has continues this work through present day. Among their programs include operating a design review program for the City of Baltimore, without any cost to the City. The Society has a newsletter, and is involved in organizing several events throughout the year including walking tours, an Authentic Ghostwalk, and the Annual Fell's Point Festival.

One of their properties, The Robert Long House, was originally built around 1765 by an area merchant. Slated for demolition in 1969, members of the Preservation Society fought the city and federal government to keep the building standing. The Society acquired the property in 1975 and led a painstaking restoration. Following a devastating fire in 1999, the house was once again restored to its colonial splendor. The Robert Long House and the nearby garden are an ongoing reminder of the power of community activism and courage in the face of challenge.

In 2000 the Preservation Society built a modern Conference and Visitor Center next to the Robert Long House. With 25 foot timbered ceilings and skylights, this remained the home of the Society until January 2009 when the Steven Scott Gallery opened in this space.

Garden adjacent to the Robert Long House

One last organization of some relevance to the work of the Preservation Society is the Fell's Point Main Street program. This program established in 2003 was created to assist with revitalization of the Fell's Point district. This organization appears to have gotten several promotional events started including Privateer Day, the 2nd Annual Swashbuckler Soiree, and the 6th Annual Pyrate Invasion. A review of website would seem to indicate that other areas of the Main Street Approach such as Organization, Economic Restructuring, and Design are not as of yet being fully embraced.

One of the charming businesses in the Fell's Point neighborhood is the Maryland Bay Company. This store features folk art, furniture, and regional merchandise.