Mount Vernon Cultural Walk
In the early 1950s, the 900 block of Tyson Street made national news for its dramatic transformation from a dilapidated street of falling down houses to a street framed by quaint pastel-colored homes. In 1948, City inspectors had condemned Tyson Street as a health menace. Around that time, artist Edward Rosenfeld bought a condemned house on the block for $800 and began renovations. Other artist-types followed, and by the mid-1950s the street was transformed into one of the country's first urban revitalization projects. The 50-year old tradition of painting each house a different pastel color continues today.
During the 1920s, Read Street was infamous for its speakeasies. In the 1950s, coffee shops entertained Baltimore's local beatnik crowd, and by the 1960s, "Read Street festivals were full of rock music, drugs, and rowdiness." Eventually, with lively retail stores full of exotic wares, the Philadelphia Inquirer stated that "just as New York has its Greenwich Village, Baltimore has its Read Street.
In 1829 Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange (ca.1780-1882) founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first African American Catholic order of nuns. For many years, the sisters operated the St. Francis Academy, a day and boarding school for African American children in Mount Vernon, located near the corner of
Park and Read streets. As the order grew, Mother Mary oversaw the establishment of schools in Philadelphia, New Orleans and St. Louis, and witnessed the Oblate Sisters of Providence expand into the Caribbean and Central America.
From 1858 to 1863, Hiram Rhodes Revels (1827-1911) became the minister of the Colored Presbyterian Church, located at 104 East Madison Street. During the Civil War, Revels raised the 4th and 39th Colored Troops in Baltimore. In 1870, after moving to Mississippi, Revels became the first African American U.S. Senator, ironically replacing Jefferson Davis, then former President of the Confederacy.
(Inscription under the image in the upper center) These quaint 19th century houses located in the 900 block of Tyson Street were homes to Irish rug weavers, laborers, washerwomen, free African Americans, and painters.
(Inscription under the images on the right) (1st image)-Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, born in Haiti and educated in Santiago, Cuba, fled to Baltimore in 1813 and soon began teaching African American children in her home. Shortly thereafter, she moved to the corner of Park and Read streets, and opened the St. Francis Academy. Father James Hector Joubert (pictured on the right), encouraged Elizabeth Lange to found an order of nuns dedicated to the education of African American children. On Jul 2, 1829, Elizabeth Lange and three
other African American women professed their vows and became the founding members of the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
(2nd image)-Hiram Rhodes Revels (1827-1901), born in North Carolina as a free African American, attended seminary at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois in 1856-57 where he was ordained as a minister. Revels served as pastor to the Madison Street Presbyterian Church in Baltimore from 1858 to 1863. After serving as U.S. Senator from 1870 to 1871, he became secretary of state for Mississippi in 1873. From 1876-1882 he served as president of Alcorn College in Mississippi.
(3rd image)-In 1879, the Albion Hotel was designed by architect Bruce Price in the then popular Second Empire Style. From the 1880s to the 1920s, Miss Ella Culbreth, an —- and well traveled school teacher, managed the hotel that catered to well-to-do-families. In 1983, the Albion Hotel was restored and rehabilitated into the Cathedral Court Apartments.
(4th image)-This image depicts the Emanuel Protestant Episcopal Church as it stood shortly before the 1910s. John Rudolph Niernson and James Crawford Neilson, Baltimore's first professional architectural firm, who were responsible for many houses in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, designed the church in 1854 in a simple English Country Gothic Style. In 1914, Ralph Adams Cram redesigned the interior nave and in 1919 architect Weldemar H. Ritter of Boston clothed the exterior with the current "Flemish Gothic Greenery.
(5th image)-The "Read Street scene" in 1967.