Stemmer House Sells in Eleventh Hour


The Sun reported last week that Stemmer House sold the night before it was to go to auction. But to whom? The Sun could not get the details. We have been poking around all week to get someone to identify the new owner so we could report it to you, dear reader, but to no avail.  Now we appeal to you: Does anyone know who has the house estate under contract?

Let us know in the comments. 

Downsizing with Elegance


HOT HOUSE: 230 Stony Run Lane #3F Baltimore, MD 21210

Large, airy condo in the grand old Gardens of Guilford apartments near Johns Hopkins University.  Two bedroom, two bath, 1,510 sq. ft. home with stunning roof terrace: $299,000

What: A rare find. A large, well-maintained apartment in one of the most desirable buildings in north Baltimore. The Gardens of Guilford were built in 1924, a good year,  as America was riding a pre-Depression high and construction budgets were lavish. Its distinctive Mediterranean style–rounded roof tiles, thick walls, big windows, stucco exterior–whispers “old money.” Through attractive gardens and up two flights of stairs, #3F opens into an apartment that’s full of light and charm. A large, sunny living room to the left of the foyer has a wall of windows and French doors that open onto the roof terrace–easily the crown jewel of the building. Beautifully designed, generous in size and luxurious in planting, the terrace could comfortably accommodate a dinner party of six to eight, cocktails for twenty. A trickle of water runs musically into a small fountain. Dappled shade from tall trees creates a real feeling of oasis in the city. It’s hard to leave the terrace to go inside, but once there the apartment is a delight. The living room has a cozy fireplace and built-in bookcases. Walk through the open dining room into a nicely modernized kitchen, both with good-sized windows. Two hallways lead off the main area, one leads to the smaller of the bedrooms  (13×13’) and a new bathroom with glassed in-shower. The second hallway leads to a very big (13×19’) second bedroom, currently a chic office, with an expanse of windows running along one wall. Another wall has built-in cabinets with square doors, running floor to ceiling and providing a wealth of storage. There’s a good-sized closet here as well, and a second bathroom is out in the corridor.  Apartment has forced air heat and central air too, for days when even these amazing windows aren’t enough.  

Where: Tucked in between St. Paul Street and University Parkway, in the beautiful, quiet neighborhood of Tuscany-Canterbury. A very short walk to Johns Hopkins University, Charles Village and Baltimore Museum of Art. To get there, take 39th Street off of St. Paul Street or University Parkway to Stony Run Lane. Stay straight at the stop sign to Gardens of Guilford. Entrance is on the right at top of circle labeled 3.

Apartment is on the third floor to the right.  

Why: The roof terrace alone would do it, but this place checks a lot of boxes. Secluded yet convenient. Stylish yet dignified. Safe, secure and very walkable. 

Would Suit: Bronte Mitchell, the environmentalist who hooks up with Gerard Depardieu in Green Card, the ‘80’s romantic comedy.  If you haven’t seen it lately, then think Hopkins professor. Also, downsizers and/or travelers–it’s an ideal turn-the-key-and-go type building. 

Why Not: Watering the roof garden might become a chore… 

Cozy (Green) Treehouses Overlook Clipper Mill


HOT HOUSE: 3415 Woodberry Avenue, Baltimore, 21211

Overlooking Clipper Mill and Woodberry, a contemporary style, new-built, green design, three story house in a small development with access to the Woodberry swimming pool: $529,000.

What: An interesting idea. Streuver Brothers started this group of 38 houses, then BB&T bank bought and finished them. Now they’re on the market as “contemporary park homes with wooded views and the latest in sustainable design options.” All true. Built to very high LEED silver environmental standards, they are currently the greenest houses in the mid-Atlantic. The houses are free-standing, although the lots are very small, and somehow they feel like town homes. High on an outcropping above the Clipper Mill village, they do offer a rare chance to own a contemporary home in an ancient and fascinating corner of the city. Inside, you walk up the stairs to an airy open plan living room with 10’ ceilings.  Expansive glass windows have views of trees and the old industrial buildings of Clipper Mill.  Outside is a nice deck. A dining area, and a sleek galley kitchen are on the main floor too, the kitchen with Bosch stainless steel appliances, granite counters and hardwood floors.  Upstairs are three bedrooms and three and a half baths. Downstairs is a large family room, with natural light and another deck. Nothing amazing, except the views, but all very nice. Central air, gas fireplace, one car garage. Realtor says that only eight units are left.  Hmmmm…maybe.
Where:  Off the beaten track. Take Union Avenue down the hill from Falls Road, and back up to cross over the Light Rail tracks. Stay straight as it narrows and becomes Clipper Park Road. You’ll pass Woodberry Kitchen on your right. Hang a sharp left just past the Stable onto Woodberry Avenue and up a steep-ish hill.  From here, you can walk to the Light Rail (just 15 minutes to downtown), Woodberry Kitchen and the Jones Falls hiking/biking trail. Good access to I-83, too.  

Why: It’s something different and kind of cool. Snug in your nest, up in the trees, behind walls of glass, with a nice combination of industrial and rural views, you can feel happily superior to your suburban friends, living in so not-green brick boxes. Plus, feeling like you’re supporting the arts community, somehow, just by living here … Plus, chance to be a barfly at Woodberry Kitchen, lounge lizard at the fabulous pool.

Would suit: divorcees, hipsters with a trust-fund, artists–at-heart, environmentally-conscious retirees.

Why Not: Although striking, their modern styling is not that great looking, except at night.  Getting down the hill in snow or ice could be a problem. 

The Union Mill: Courting Baltimore Teachers With Low Cost & High Style


As you turn off Falls Road in Hampden, heading downhill on Union Avenue towards Meadow Mill and Woodberry Kitchen, it’s hard not to slow down to admire the construction project that is the Union Mill. The mill lies low in a hollow beside the Jones Falls; in the mornings, mist hangs in the air.

A shady and nameless bar across the street seems to be open 24/7, and at odd hours men and women stagger out, light a cigarette, head back in. The setting has an Edward Hopper beauty, and there was a time in my life when living there would have been extremely appealing. Now–too late for me–it will be possible. Over the past year and a half, the Union Mill at 1500 Union Avenue has been the latest project of the Seawall Development Company–turning an abandoned stone factory into a mixed-use building designed and managed specifically for non-profits and teachers– an innovative development concept that looks like a win-win for Baltimore city. 

The History

Built in 1866, the Druid Mill, as it was then called, was, in its heyday, one of several Mt. Vernon mills that used the water from the Jones Falls to make cotton duck, a heavy fabric used in clothing, tents and sails. A plaque on the lintel reads “Mt. Vernon Mill # 4,” in reference to the Clipper, Meadow and Woodberry Mills located nearby. When the mill stopped producing fabric in the 1920’s, the building functioned as a warehouse until it was purchased by the Kramer brothers just after World War II. The Kramers used it as a factory to make toys and accessories for model trains, supplying the then booming hobby business.  Eventually, it fell back into use as a warehouse, and was finally abandoned until just last year, when it was sold to Donald Manekin, a successful Harford County developer. Manekin is a founding partner in the Seawall Development Company, a local business with an interesting history, one that specializes in the burgeoning sector of “socially responsible development.”

Socially responsible development is the idea that building design can impact not only the lives of its residents, but help rehabilitate distressed urban areas.  In the case of Seawall, the concept began with the father-son team of Donald and Thibault Manekin. Don Manekin is the former owner/operator of building giant Manekin Construction, which he sold in 2000. Around the same time as he accepted the unpaid position, offered by his friend Bill Streuver, as CEO of the Baltimore City Public School System. The years he spent there proved to be a turning point in his life, as he says “talking to teachers, and learning about education in Baltimore from the inside-out.” By the time, in 2005, that his son Thibault returned from South Africa–where he had started his own sports-related non-profit enterprise–the two were ready to begin the give-back. The solution combined their experience in construction and development with a real ambition to help a city in need. “It all came out of those conversations with teachers,” Manekin says.

The Mission

Teaching in Baltimore city is by any definition a hard job. Teacher retention rates are low–with less than half of new hires staying more that five years and a third leaving after two–costing the city over $100, 000 for each defection. Many of the young teachers Manikin met expressed a sense of isolation and discouragement due to a variety of factors–moving to a new and unfamiliar city, learning to engage children from distressed environments, and lack of support within the system. With 750 new teachers arriving in Baltimore every year, many of them with Teach for America, and most of them financially strapped, finding affordable housing is yet another challenge. After conducting a series of interviews and surveys with teachers, the Manekins began to translate the results into design elements for a kind of social experiment–buildings that would support teachers by encouraging collaboration and creating a sense of community. The vision was to “roll out the red carpet for teachers,” Manekin says, to improve retention rates and “maybe get them to stay in Baltimore.”

Miller’s Court

In 2007, Donald and Thibault Manekin, together with partner Evan Morville, used a combination of federal and state tax credits, New Market tax credits, enterprise zone credits and private financing to buy and renovate the old Miller Can Factory at 2601 North Howard Street–cost, around $20 million. The resulting building, Miller’s Court, is a mixed residential and commercial space with 40 one, two and three-bedroom affordable apartments for teachers, as well as 35,000 square feet of office space leased at below market rates by education-related non-profits. Six teachers from Teach For America helped design the project. Architect Tom Liebel and his team at Marks, Thomas Architects incorporated many of their ideas into the final plans.

Learning that teachers spend a lot of time in copy shops because often schools don’t have enough copy equipment, a workroom with a high-volume copier became part of the plan. Instead of late night runs to the copy shop, teachers can hang out and chat while using the center. An old loading dock was reconfigured with a fire pit and benches as an outdoor space, the central court is now a bocce court –all with the idea of creating an environment where people with common interests interact with one another, share problems and maybe come up with solutions. The non-profit organizations that support these teachers are right downstairs, and include Catholic Charities, Experience Corps, the Baltimore Urban Debate League and Playworks.

Here, shared training, conference and meeting rooms that can accommodate from two to 100 people greatly reduce the space requirements, and thereby, the cost of operating. Businesses with similar goals are in close proximity to each other. A voice on the phone becomes a face in the hall. Ideas are exchanged. Things, hopefully, get done better and faster. “To the extent that we can make a teacher’s life easier,” says Evan Morville, “that is the mission.”

The good news for the partners in Seawall was that their vision met with success. Six months before completion, the building was completely pre-leased, and there was a waiting list of 400 teachers for future projects. Miller’s Court became the regional headquarters for Teach For America. And as the Manekins hoped, the building is having a ripple effect on the surrounding neighborhood. Rehabilitation of the abandoned building, a former neighborhood blight, has inspired nearby buildings to improve their own appearance, and helped to spur investment in the neighborhood. In 2010, fresh from their success at Miller’s Court, the Seawall Development Company went looking for another project, and found it in Hampden–at the Union Mill.

The Union Mill

At 86,000 square feet, a full block long, the Union Mill is gigantic. With its Italianate lines and beautiful stonework, it’s a more architecturally interesting building than Miller’s Court.  Recently re-pointed, the stones stand out clean and strong in walls that are over two-feet-thick. Partner Evan Morville, who is often on-site, credits the artistry of his stonemason, Ron Kemper, with the striking result. “His guys are the best I’ve ever worked with,” he says. The large paned windows have been completely replaced, trim freshly painted, and the back wall of the factory exposed to great effect.

The plan is closely based on the Miller’s Court model. The price tag of around $20 million is about the same. Ditto the financing–a combination of state and federal tax credits and private financing.  The same construction firm, Hamel Builders, and the same architect, Tom Liebel of Marks, Thomas Architects, are on board. 35,000 square feet of the building will be affordable office space, where the non-profits that help to power Baltimore’s urban economy–education, human service and health-related–can work side-by-side, sharing ideas and space, and cutting cost of overhead. Another 50,000 square feet will be residential, with 54 one and two-bedroom apartments, offered at below market rates to teachers. Common spaces, including conference and training rooms, a copy center, a free gym/fitness center, free parking, an outdoor courtyard and a café  (open to the public) in the old boiler room, offer both convenience and economies of scale.  Currently, 90 percent of the office space has been pre-leased to non-profits. Of the 54 apartments, all but seven are rented as of last week. And if there are no one-bedroom units available, Seawall will match two willing sharers together in a two-bedroom.

Seawall is not just a development company, but a management company, which means that there is as least one person, often more, in the buildings all the time, to take care of problems as they occur. So far, according to Morville, everything is running smoothly. Will the Pepsi bottling plant, just 50 yards down the hill be a problem for the residents? Nope–the walls of the factory are thick enough to block the noise, and after all “this is a city.” Any problems with crime and security?  “No problems at all,” says Morville, in fact the neighborhood has been amazingly supportive.  Manekin agrees. “In every way, the Hampden and Woodberry community associations have made this project a success.”  Seawall is so comfortable here in fact, they are moving office headquarters to a large block of space on the ground floor.

On a tour of Union Mill last week, most of the apartments exhibit more of the high style and quality construction you would expect in a top-end condo than subsidized rental apartments (units will rent to teachers for between $700 and $1,200). Each unit features exposed original columns, timber beams, beautiful old wainscoting and true plaster walls, all left as reminders of the original function of the building. The large arched windows of the factory are a striking feature in many. But essentially the apartments are sleek and modern in feeling, with polished concrete floors, glass pendant kitchen lighting, Shaker-style cabinetry and wide louvered blinds at the oversized windows. They’re great looking–a place you’d be proud to come home to at the end of the day.

And did someone say green? Part of Seawall’s mission (and part of the requirement for the historic tax-credit funding) is environmental sustainability. Here, as at Miller’s Court, much has been done to conserve energy resources, above and beyond the obvious environmental benefits of rehabbing an existing site rather than sending it to the landfill.  Energy-efficient windows, check. High-efficiency heating and cooling, check. And insulation—invisible but everywhere. Interestingly, the idea of a communal laundry room Seawall initially included in plans (more environmentally friendly, as people tend to do bigger loads, less frequently) was flat-out rejected by the teachers, who felt that the dorm period of their life was well over. A compelling reminder of the sustainability mission are old machinery and industrial parts from the factory site, which have been reworked by local artists and sculptors from MICA into thought provoking artwork to be placed indoors and outside at the Union Mill.

“We look at real estate as an opportunity to effectuate change,” says Evan Morville, wearing a hard hat and gazing up at the stone building nearing completion.

One change has already happened–an abandoned factory, beautifully refitted for the needs of another century. The more important change, for Baltimore City–a chance at improving the lives of teachers and hopefully, their students–has just begun.

Stemmer House Goes Up for Auction Weds.


What a steal! We fell in love with Stemmer House when we featured it in Houstory in May. Now The Sun reports that the Owings Mills estate–complete with 27+ acres, two barns, a pool, a pond, glorious gardens and more–will go to auction in two days, August 3. Minimum bid: $1.4 million.

It’s a blessing or a curse, depending which side of the sale your on. But how can this be? Houses with a lot less acreage and features sell for a lot more around the city and county. It would be a shame to see this lovely treasure fall into the wrong hands. (Yes, it would make a lovely B&B or wedding and Bar Mitzvah venue, but really?) We’ll keep our fingers crossed that this local historic landmark goes to a true domi-phile who will give it the tender loving care it deserves. 

Stemmer House Auction

To take place on the premises: 2627 Caves Road, Owings Mills 21117

Wednesday, August 3

11:00 a.m.

$50,000 deposit required.

For more information:

Modern Architectural Beauty in a Country Setting


HOT HOUSE: 10801 Longacre Lane, Stevenson, 21153

An architectural classic, mid-century modern, eight bedroom house. 9,189 square feet on 8.7 acres, with pool and tennis court in Stevenson: $2,950,000

What: A long, sleek, white house in poured concrete, built in 1967, and renovated in 2007. It’s a striking example of the ‘international style’, an early form of modernism pioneered in the 1930’s by designers like Robert Nutria, Philip Johnson and Marcel Breuer–think “The Fountainhead.”  It’s a design sensibility that sets it well apart from its more traditional neighbors in the Greenspring Valley, but that said, it fits perfectly into its setting, and there’s not a neighbor in sight to detract from the view. A two-story, floor-to-ceiling glass wall at the front of the house overlooks a turquoise pool, heated, with diving board (hooray! a rare treat) and terraces. Skylights on the top floor flood the house with light, which pours through the center atrium, glancing off the marble floors and into the humongous (35’x26’) gourmet kitchen.  With fireplace, marble floors and counters, and high-end appliances, this really is the total A.D. dream kitchen. Also on the main floor are a cozy (hey, it’s all relative) family room with fireplace and wet bar, rec room, library and dining room, both with garden terraces. Tons of bedrooms upstairs, the master bedroom is especially big and stylish, with lots of glass, a luxurious bathroom, walk-in closets/dressing room. The house has six full and three half-baths, four wood-burning fireplaces, and at least one gas fireplace. The garage is attached and heated, the pool house and tennis/games court are ready to go.         

Where: Longacre Road is off of Stevenson Road, off of Greenspring Valley Road, not far from Park Heights Avenue.  The closest shopping is the tiny Stevenson Village but basically, it’s the Reisterstown Road corridor (Trader Joes!). McDonough, Garrison Forest, Krieger Schechter and St. Tim’s are the closest private schools.

Why: The aesthetics, for one.  Houses in this style, of this caliber, are hard to come by around here. And if clean, strong, architectural lines, white walls and light filled rooms are what you love, then it’s a very compelling space. Secondly, the aesthetics. It’s the perfect house for an art collection. The Damian Hirst will look spectacular over the atrium. Then again, almost anything would.  

NB:  Kitchen might be a little intimidating unless you’re a darn good cook.

Also, the usual difficulty with modern houses: avoiding clutter. Where to put all your loved ones’ junk?

Would suit: Major art collector, Howard Roark…

Worthington Valley Cottage: City Convenience, Country Charm


HOT HOUSE: 12923 Dover Road, Reisterstown, MD 21136

New England style salt-box colonial on 3.85 wooded acres in Poplar Ridge, in the Worthington Valley: $1,125,000

What: This could be the place you’ve been waiting to land. 12923 Dover is a comfortable, airy, three-story colonial, built in 1978 along the simple lines of a Nantucket captain’s house. Four bedrooms and four-and-a half baths on a private wooded lot also make it a great family home.  The backyard cries out for kids, soccer goals and lacrosse gear-–it’s a wide-open yet private place to play. The lot is big enough for a pool or tennis court, although lovely just as it is and a keen gardener could create a beautiful wooded garden here. An attractive barn/shed on the property will help store all that gear. Inside, past the entrance foyer, the generously proportioned, new (redone only last year) kitchen is furnished with all mod cons and has a big window overlooking the woods–heaven for the dish do-er. Also on the first floor are formal but relaxed living and dining rooms, family room and a big porch overlooking the woods. Open floor plan means the rooms flow nicely into one another, creating a good flow for entertaining. Family room and living room have wood-burning fireplaces. High-end details like crown molding, built-in bookcases and hardwood flooring add character.  Upstairs, the bedrooms are nice and there’s a good-sized master suite with walk-in closet and luxurious all-white bathroom. A finished basement for the kids when it’s raining, central air, forced air heat–all systems go. 

Where: Dover Road is off of Greenspring Avenue, in the posh Worthington Valley. Think golf, think horses, think trees. Nearby are the shops at Greenspring Station and Stevenson Village. For groceries, the fabulous Wegman’s in Hunt Valley is just a few easy miles away. For being far out, the location is actually a pretty good gig.  

Why: Pretty property near several golf courses.  Also, proximity to Halcyon House, decorator Stiles Colwell’s glamorous little farm house boutique just a mile or two down the road.  

Why Not: It’s dark out here at night, and the roads twist and turn–driving home after a few drinks could present more than the usual challenges…or maybe it’s just me.

Would suit: Young family. People who’ve always wanted to live in the country. Golfers.

Ruxton Refined


Let’s play a game. Pretend you are the co-founder, former chair and CEO of one of Baltimore’s most successful investment firms. You are married to a Louisiana-bred beauty who is known for her grace and impeccable taste. Picture your house. Epic loveliness, right? Well, Chip and Rand Mason’s (yep, Legg Mason) Ruxton home is selling for $5.6 million and, if you’re doing imaginative visualization with me, it is not going to surprise you in the least.

The “venerable French inspired manse” is certainly both epic and lovely. Set on 12 acres on Ruxton’s most coveted street, Circle Road, the house has all the expected amenities: six bedrooms, grand foyer, pool, pavilion, tennis court and plenty of patios and terraces from which you can soak in the surrounding beauty. Mrs. Mason’s Louisiana roots are evident throughout the home. Notice the unmistakable French Quarter-style shutters and ironwork in the exterior shots. Makes me want a beignet. Oh who am I kidding, make it a Hurricane. The theme continues inside where the French furnishings are done up in a palette scooped right from a gelato shop. Tres jolie. The peach and mint living room is quintessential Southern prettiness but the real star of the show is the master bedroom. The curved wall of windows and the ridiculously sized “sitting area” make me woozy, and downright snoozy, with delight.  I picture lounging on that green banquet, enjoying my tea, while planning a festive brunch menu (which I will pass to the caterers of course). Hey, a girl can dream.

Chip retired from Legg Mason in 2008 and one could assume that is the impetus for the move. He started Mason and Co. at the age of 25 and after merging with Legg and Co. in 1970, took the company public in 1974. His ride to success has included a deal with Citigroup which brought the company to a peak of $830 billion in asset management in 2005. No wonder the house is similarly generous. Mr. Mason also takes his civic duties seriously. He has chaired the Securities Industry Association, served as Emeritus trustee of Hopkins and on the boards of the BMA, United Way and National Aquarium just to name a few. Perhaps the guy is just tired of mowing that 12-acre lawn–kidding, kidding! Rumor has it that the couple spends most of their time in Florida these days and are looking downtown for their next Baltimore pad. With his resources and her discerning eye, it’s sure to be a showstopper.

Is $30 million Too Much to Ask?


HOT HOUSE: Tudor Farms, 3675 Decoursey Bridge Road, Cambridge, MD 21613

Spectacular hunting lodge with 6,250 acres of land, indoor riding ring and stables, indoor tennis/sports center, two guest houses, barns, kennels and picking house, in Cambridge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore: $30 million.

What: Built as a weekend retreat in 1990 for Wall Street hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones–who later pled guilty to federal wetlands violations there–this is a grand, Adirondack-style hunting lodge of turn-of the-century splendor.  Eleven bedrooms, ten and a half baths, and eight fireplaces on three stories make it a natural for large group entertaining (your family reunion!),  and would work really well as a small hotel or private hunting club. Heated and cooled with geothermal energy, the house is supplied with all the custom features you would expect in a $30 million property. Gourmet kitchen? Duh. Yoga room? Yup. Games room? Check.  Walk-in closets, built-in bookcases and hardwood floors? Check. Window treatments all in-place, and included, a nice touch.  In the living room, a breathtaking wall of glass overlooks the water. Even so, the real appeal of the place is at least as much about the property as the house.  Head for the basketball court or the equestrian center, to check out the riding ring and pristine stables.  Then off to the kennels, ready for your pack of hounds.  This is a nature connoisseur’s paradise.  Considered “one of the most important hunting estates in the country” and categorized for tax purposes as a “hunting and fishing reserve,” the land has been carefully managed to insure the widest variety of native wildlife. There are ponds for fishing, wetlands and woodland for hunting duck, goose, turkey, pheasant, deer and more. The peaceful, private atmosphere (broken only by occasional gunfire…) creates a haven for man and beast. Fun fact: The lake on the property has islands in the shape of the owner’s initials PTJ.   

Where: Cambridge (pop.12,326), a pretty town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its also one of the state’s oldest towns, so guests not out hunting on the reserve can get a little history and shop its galleries and markets. To get there, take Rt. 50 east over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Go about 40 more miles and you’ll cross the Choptank River and be in Cambridge. Decoursey Bridge Road is about six miles out Bucktown Road from Cambridge. 

Why: The picking house obviously–how many people do you know who have one?  But really, because this is an over-the-top man cave, a boy’s retreat, where hunting is the main event and every day is Superbowl Sunday. The former owner’s status as a Wall Street celeb gives it extra cachet.  Jones, 56, nickname PTJ, is a Memphis boy and UVA grad/major donor who made a killing in the 1980’s futures market as head of Tudor Investments. He founded the Robin Hood Foundation with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, married an Australian model after dating Bianca Jagger and Christina Onassis, and was involved in a minor scandal when his environmental planner, hired to create ten duck ponds on the property, was convicted of knowingly in-filling wetlands and sentenced to two years in jail. Jones paid $2 million in fines. Interestingly, Jones is also the star of a rogue documentary called “Trader,” (a clip currently shows on the Baltimore Fishbowl video landing) recently released on You Tube after years off the market (rumor is that Jones tried to buy all the copies out there) in which, among other things he predicts the Wall Street crash of 1987.  Current worth, $3.3 billion.  

NB: No swimming pool–possibly due to environmental concerns or restrictions. Also, an ongoing battle with nutria, a small destructive rodent currently infesting North American wetlands.  

Would suit: Teddy Roosevelt…Great White Hunter…Dick Cheney… 

Donate Your Pennies: Poe House in Poorhouse


The historic Poe House at 203 Amity Street lost $85,000 in city funding last year–they’ve been told to expect no further support–and is temporarily closed while EAP-loving local volunteers scramble to assemble funds to reopen the museum building to the public.

Enthusiastic Poe-studying students in Mr. Zimmerman’s history class at the Crossroads School in Fells Point have raised about $500 to save the house from closure. Local writer Rafael Alvarez, a former Sun reporter, now president of the Poe Society of Baltimore, encouraged the middle schoolers to take up a down-home drive, Pennies for Poe, inspired by historic events.

More than 150 years ago, local schoolchildren began collecting pennies to purchase a marker for Poe’s grave–you may recall, the author died scary broke and alone in 1849, at (gasp) 40. Finally, back then, a few businessmen got word and pitched in, bringing the grand tombstone total to $1200 and ensuring that the author’s grave would include a legit headstone to praise his name.

Alvarez has extended “Pennies” by enlisting several local establishments to feature a Poe House donation fishbowl or coffee can (see bar/restaurant list below). He’ll visit more city schools this fall to talk Poe facts and invite kids to fund-raise.

“Not everyone who comes to Baltimore confines their adventures to the Inner Harbor. Many tourists–along with locals–wander to see the more obscure gems of Crabtown, like the house on Amity Street where Edgar Allan Poe lived for a time with his wife and mother-in-law and is said to have written the ever-fabulous ‘MS. Found in a Bottle,’” Alvarez says. “We are collecting so many pennies that a search is on for a well-hidden, secure and empty swimming pool to fill with pennies. Pennies will save the Poe House as sure as William Donald Schaefer still knows where an abandoned and burned out car waits to be towed away by the Department of Public Works.”

A sizable swimming pool of change might just do it. There’s still a long way to go to reach the foundation’s $85,000-deep goal, so dig beneath your sofa cushions, pat under your car floor mats, and break the piggy bank. Help keep the horror master’s doors from creaking creepily shut for evermore.

Make checks payable to:
DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, City of Baltimore
put the words POE HOUSE in memo line.

Mail donations to:
Jeff Jerome (Poe House curator)
c/o Baltimore City Department of Planning, 8th Floor
417 East Fayette Street Baltimore, MD 21202

Or drop your spare change in collection jars at:

G&A Hot Dogs at 3802 Eastern Avenue

The Laughing Pint at 3531 Gough

Pub 1919 at 1919 Fleet Street