Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail
Communities grow in direct proportion to their access to capital. Potential homebuyers and business owners in Old West Baltimore needed access to money. In 1896, Everett J. Waring, along with some of Baltimore's most prominent African Americans, formed the Lexington Savings Bank, modeled after a successful all African American savings and loan in Washington, D.C. A year later, however, a major scandal rocked the bank and it closed. In 1920, Teackle Wallis Lansey, along with several black community leaders, opened the Ideal Savings and Loan. At the time of its closing in 2010, it was Maryland's oldest African American financial institution.
By the 1940s, African Americans in Baltimore were drawn to faiths other than Christianity. In Baltimore, many African Americans were attracted to the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, which transformed into the Nation of Islam. The first Nation of Islam converts met over an ice cream store on Pennsylvania Avenue. In 1959 they moved to 514 Islamic Way, currently the Masjid Al Haqq. Malcolm X visited there in the early 1960s and Muhammad Ali in the 1970s. In 1975, Wallace D. Muhammad led Nation of Islam followers to embrace Orthodox Sunni Islam, implementing many reforms that brought the Nation of Islam in line with Orthodox Sunni Islam. In 1975, the Nation of Islam Temple #6 was
renamed and the center of Sunni Islam in Baltimore was born.
The Islamic community, much like the Nation of Islam, reached out to empower the African American community. This community runs a school, provides religious services, cares for the poor and empowers local African Americans. The Islamic community continues to create positive change in Old West Baltimore.
(Inscription under the image in the upper center) Above: McCulloh Street east from Dolphin, ca. 1930.
(Inscription beside the image in the lower left) Left: Elijah Muhammed.
(Inscription under the images on the right) Ideal Savings and Loan
During the Great Depression, people demanded withdrawals and many banks were unable to return deposits. Ideal Savings and Loan paid off every depositor. Ideal became dormant in 1933, but reopened in 1962. The savings and loan operated for almost an additional 50 years until it closed in 2010. (Above: One of the Founders—Teakle Wallis Lansey)
Elijah Muhammad and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength in Diversity
Baltimore's faith-based community finds strength in its diversity. The Islamic community has been a part of Baltimore since 1943. The well-established and active Islamic community has created a school, redeveloped houses and opened a soup kitchen in Old West Baltimore.
In 1956 the Baltimore Masjid was establishd as Muhammad's Temple of Islam #6. Upon the death of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1975, Temple #6 adapted Sunni Orthodox practices, including services in Arabic.
Justice Thurgood Marshall's Childhood Home
Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993), the grandson of a slave, became the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 1967. Justice Marshall grew up in old West Baltimore at 1532 Division Street. He attended segregated public schools and, as a teenager, worked in a Pennsylvania Avenue hat shop. Later, Marshall argued before the Supreme Court that "separate but equal" doctrine was in fact "unequal" and unconstitutional.
Saint Peter Claver Church
Founded in 1888, Saint Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church at 1546 Fremont Avenue was active in the non-violent movement of the Civil Rights era. Serving Baltimore's black Catholics, St. Peter Claver was the world's first church dedicated to the newly canonized South American saint known as the "apostle of the slave." Throughout history, Baltimore's churches have provided leadership in social, political and economic arenas.
Reverse Side of the Marker
Take a walk through history in storied Old West Baltimore. You'll relive the glory days of Pennsylvania Avenue and
its surrounding neighborhoods. Follow the lives of inspiring people. Tour churches that served as places of empowerment and beacons of enlightenment, and gain new perspective on this African American community's role in the struggle for civil rights. Explore at your own pace following these story signs to learn about Baltimore African Americans who helped build a city and changed the face of American music, art, literature and politics.
(Inscriptions under the images on the right)
1.Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland
2.The Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum
3.Douglas Memorial Community Church
5.Morriah Keyhole Houses
6.Booker T. Washington Middle School
7.Bethel AME Church
8.Union Baptist Church
9.Sharp Street Methodist Church
10.Henry Highland Garnet School/PS 103
11.The Royal Theatre Marquee Monument
12.Billie Holliday Plaza
13.Macedonia Baptist Church
14.The Comedy Club
15.Trinity Baptist Church
17 Ideal Savings and Loan
19.Thurgood Marshall's Childhood Home
20.Romare Bearden Mural.
(Inscriptions under the images)
*Listen, Can you feel it pulsating down the Street of Royalty?
*It's bee-bop, jazz, comedy—and of course—the blues.
*All the greats were here. Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake and more!
*Learn about African American politicians and lawyers like William Ashbie Hawkins and George McMechan who fought against on ordinance segregating whites and blacks block by block.
*Visit churches that nurtured the soul, and also fed, clothed and housed the poor.
*Follow Thurgood Marshall from Henry Highland Garnet School/PS 103, to winning landmark Supreme Court cases, to becoming a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
*Learn how Old West Baltimore residents and church leaders played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and in the Buy Where You Can Work jobs campaign.
*And walk in the creative footsteps of writer Zora Neale Hurston, artist Romare Breaden and actors at the Arena Players.