Baltimore has an impressive way of preserving and finding new uses for many of its historic mills, museums, churches and industrial structures. This weekend offers a chance for city residents and visitors to learn about the rich history and attention to detail underlying many of those buildings.
Doors Open Baltimore, which runs this Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., invites people to visit 61 buildings around the city. The Baltimore Architecture Foundation (BAF) and the American Institute of Architects are co-sponsors of the event.
More than 1,000 people came out to last year’s Doors Open event, and the organizations have added nine more destinations to the list this year. Nathan Dennies, communications manager for the BAF, said attendance is expected to double this year.
The event offers something out of the ordinary from Baltimoreans’ daily or weekend routines, he says. “The general idea is to get people to explore the city and get to know places around the city that they otherwise might not venture out to.”
The map for the day divides the dozens of sites to visit into four categories: Culture and community (ex: Baltimore Clayworks in Mt. Washington, Union Craft Brewing in Woodberry); historic and adaptive reuse (Meadow Mill, Montgomery Park); museums and galleries (American Visionary Art Museum, Walters Art Museum); and sacred spaces (Basilica of the National Shrine, Lovely Lane United Methodist Church). Architects, interior designers and others will be waiting at many of the locations to school visitors and guide them around the buildings.
It’s an admittedly sprawling map for a self-guided tour, but many of the sites are concentrated downtown, in Mt. Vernon or in areas close to Penn Station. The organizers are also offering guided neighborhood tours, a bus tour hosted by Baltimore Heritage (note: costs $25) or a bicycle tour led by Bikemore.
An ideal starting point is the Maryland Historical Society Building, where Dennies says participants can pick a guide for the day ahead. Additionally, the nearby Enoch Pratt House, a historic 19th-century mansion rarely open to the public, will be open, making for a special kickoff to the tour.
Participants can expect to discover new things about the city. “It’s an opportunity to check out neighborhoods that you might otherwise not go to, or museums and buildings that aren’t typically open to the public,” Dennis says.