A Hotel With History

September, 2015
Volume 3, Issue 8

Dear Reader,

One of the city’s most picturesque buildings, with turrets and a six-story spiral staircase, the Hotel Brexton, located at the corner of Park Ave. and Tyson Street, could have come straight from a fairy tale.

Hotel Brexton
The Hotel Brexton,  photo credit Bob Glock

“The hotel is not out of the way, but it’s not on the main drag, either,” says General Manager Bob Glock. “But once people find us, they love us. There are other boutique hotels in Baltimore, but what sets us apart is that we are authentic.”

And steeped in history.

Built in 1881 for Samuel Wyman, The Hotel Brexton was made of Baltimore brick and constructed in the Queen Anne design style, with an asymmetrical façade, corner towers, a dormer roof and oriel windows. It served as a ‘residential hotel’ for the first few decades of the Twentieth century, and its most famous tenant was Wallis Simpson.

An Epic Romance

Wallis Simpson
A portrait of the ever-fashionable Wallis Simpson hangs in the lobby

Wallis Simpson was known as the Baltimore woman who stole the heart of Britain’s King, Edward VIII. Because Simpson was twice divorced when the two met in the early 1930s, the British government would not allow the King to marry her. So Edward did the unthinkable – he gave up his crown in order to be with his love. Talk about a fairy tale.

Wallis, born Bessie Wallis Warfield, lived at the Hotel Brexton with her mother for a few lean years beginning in 1905. Her father had died when she was an infant. Back then the building was sliced into 58 rooms – and one can only imagine how tight the spaces were, as today’s layout is comprised of just 29 rooms.

Simpson’s mother Alice, who was equally beautiful, earned a living by cooking meals for her neighbors and sewing children’s clothing at the Woman’s Industrial Exchange on Charles Street. “Many times Wallis walked up the brick edged steps with a heart as heavy as a suitcase,” writes one of her biographers.

The hotel's turret
The hotel’s turret during hard times

Eventually Alice’s sister invited them to move into her home at 9 West Chase Street. When Alice remarried, they moved again: In total, Wallis called several residences in Mount Vernon home and even had her Cotillion at the Lyric Theater.

Wallis left Baltimore for Asia after her marriage to her first husband, a dashing aviator named Earl Spencer, in 1916. While she would become known as one of the world’s most fashionable women, inspiring a generation of couturiers and jewelry designers, she made several visits back to her hometown. And she credits her grade school teacher in Baltimore for instilling her with a sense of style.

Meanwhile, the Hotel Brexton underwent a few stylish renovations of its own, in 1927, when a front canopy was installed, and later in 1947 when all 59 rooms were converted into apartments. But in the 1980s the building fell on hard times and was closed due to changes in the city’s building codes. It sat vacant for the next 25 years.

In 2007, Richard Naing of RWN Development Group purchased the property and spent more than $4.5 million to restore it. “Hotel Brexton, abandoned and in terrible condition when I purchased it, has been a labor of love,” Naing told the Baltimore Sun.

The exterior of the building was returned to its original grandeur and the interior rooms reconfigured so that each had a private bath. The six-story spiral staircase was rehabbed and amenities were added, including cable TV and wireless Internet.

Changes were made to highlight the building’s impressive architectural details. “After all, one would expect to see inside what’s on the outside of this remarkable building,” says General Manager Bob Glock.

The elegant new lobby
The elegant new lobby

The Hotel Brexton became a part of the Historic Hotels of America Network and its restored design received a Preservation Award from Baltimore Heritage in 2010.

In the past few months, General Manager Bob Glock has made improvements that once again elevate the building’s profile. The lobby has been renovated and the spiral staircase returned to its natural wood finish. Glock is adding eclectic furniture and artwork to the hotel’s 29 rooms, giving each a distinct personality. There’s even a suite devoted to Wallis Simpson, on the top floor, and a suite next door named after her King. Both are decorated in royal fashion.

Glock is planning to add “Weekend In Mount Vernon” packages that include rooms at the hotel and admission to our neighborhood’s many wonderful cultural institutions. He is also planning on wine socials on the Brexton’s outdoor patio for both guests and area residents to enjoy. September room rates at the Hotel Brexton begin at $139. The Hotel Brexton is located at 868 Park Avenue in Baltimore. Call 443-478-2100 or visit their website or Facebook page for more information.


 

Upcoming Events In Mount Vernon
Presented in Alphabetical Order

 

Baltimore School For the Arts
712 Cathedral Street | 443-642-5167 | Website

 

Board-close up
Second Chance, by Sarah VanDerBeek

Photography Exhibit:
The Movement of Memory

Sep 18, 2015 – Oct 14, 2015

BSA’s Visual artists are kicking off the year’s events with an exhibit of the work they’ll create with BSA alumna Sara VanDerBeek. A critically acclaimed artist, Sara is currently featured in the Front Room at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She and BSA’s seniors will consider the impact of performance, process, and site on contemporary photography. Join them at the Opening Reception Friday, September 18, from 4-6 pm. Free! The exhibit runs through October 14, 2015. Visit the Baltimore School for the Arts website for more information.

Labor of Love
Sep 26, 2015 | 9 AM-2 PM

BSA’s annual clean-up, fix-up, team-up fun-day is back on schedule for the fall – The school welcomes volunteers! Save the date Saturday, September 26 from 9 am to 2 pm to help us beautify BSA. All welcome and encouraged! Contact Carter Polakoff at cpolakoff@bsfa.org for more information!


 

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
1212 Cathedral Street | 410-783-8000 | Website

 

Dawes

BSO Pulse: Dawes
Thu, Sep 24, 2015 | 7 PM
The Meyerhoff

Philip Glass: Symphony No. 3

Doors open at 5 PM
Lobby bands at 7 PM
Concert to follow

Expand your musical horizons with Pulse, a new concert series that brings together the classical world and the indie rock scene on one stage. Each concert will explore connections that cross genres, opening with members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, followed by a performance featuring the headliner and culminating with a unique collaboration. Start the evening off with food from some of the area’s best restaurants, happy hour specials, local vendors and live pre-concert entertainment!

Pulse is made possible by a generous grant from The Wallace Foundation.

Tickets are $35 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office at 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni
Thu, Oct 1, 2015 | 8 PM
The Meyerhoff

Markus Stenz, conductor

With his illustrious opera background, the BSO’s new Principal Guest Conductor, Markus Stenz, brings to life the dark humor and supernatural drama of Mozart’s libertine, woman-seducing anti-hero who ultimately receives his karmic undoing. Don Giovanni headlines this all-Mozart concert also featuring the solo debut of the BSO’s new Principal Viola Lisa Steltenpohl.

Tickets range from $33 to $99 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office at 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.


 

Center Stage
700 North Calvert Street | 410-332-0033 | Website

 

Pride and Prejudice

A World Premiere Production of Jane Austen’s
Pride and Prejudice

Now through Oct 11
The Pearlstone Theater at Center Stage

Adapted by Christopher Baker

“As fresh and relevant as the day it was written.” – The Independent (UK)

Jane Austen’s mastery of manners and morals will be on full display in Center Stage’s new production of her beloved masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice. In the Bennet sisters’ 19th-century English world, marriage is the prize, but for second-eldest, Lizzy, companionship trumps blind courtship. Enter Mr. Darcy, and one of literature’s most iconic and tempestuous romances takes flight. Journey through a world quite unlike-and yet perhaps not so different from-our own, as Lizzy and Darcy learn that first impressions aren’t all they seem, and that second chances can lead to answers that have been there the entire time.

Tickets range from $19 to $39 and are available by clicking here.

Opening Night: Friday, September 18
Guests and ticket-buyers are invited to special Opening Night activities and an after-party with heavy hors d’oeuvres by sponsor Classic Catering and beer from sponsor Union Brewery.

Meet the Actors: Friday, September 25
We provide a casual atmosphere to chat with the cast after the show. Ask them your questions and get some autographs!


 

Enoch Pratt Free Library
400 Cathedral Street | 410-396-5430 | Website

 

Writers LIVE: Dale Russakoff, The Prize:
Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?

Thursday, September 17, 2015 | 6:30 PM

Dale Russakoff

When Mark Zuckerberg announced his $100 million pledge to transform the Newark Schools – and to solve the education crisis in every city in America – it looked like a huge win for then-mayor Cory Booker and governor Chris Christie. But their plans soon ran into a constituency not so easily moved: Newark’s key education players, fiercely protective of their billion-dollar-per-annum system. It’s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark’s students.

Journalist Dale Russakoff delivers a story of high ideals and hubris, good intentions and greed, celebrity and street smarts, as reformers face off against entrenched unions, skeptical parents and bewildered students. The growth of charters forces the hand of Newark’s school superintendent Cami Anderson who closes, consolidates, or redesigns more than a third of the city’s schools.

The Prize is a portrait of a titanic struggle over the future of education for the poorest kids, and a cautionary tale for those who care about the shape of America’s schools.

Dale Russakoff spent 28 years as a reporter for the Washington Post, covering politics, education, social policy and other topics.

Location: Central Library, Poe Room 400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Writers LIVE: Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III
Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth
from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement

Thursday, September 24, 2015 | 7 PM

Freeman Hrabowski

When he was 12 years old, Freeman Hrabowski heard Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. talk about a children’s march for civil rights and opportunity. Hrabowski convinced his parents to let him participate in the famed Children’s Crusade. He spent five terrifying nights in jail and became a leader for the younger kids.

Dr. Hrabowski went on to fuse his passion for education and for equality. As president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, he founded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, which has been one of the most successful programs for educating African Americans who go on to earn doctorates in the STEM disciplines. In Holding Fast to Dreams, Hrabowski recounts his journey as an educator, a university president, and a pioneer in developing successful, holistic programs for high-achieving students of all races.

Location: Central Library, Main Hall, 1st floor 400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Writers LIVE programs are supported in part by a generous grant from PNC Bank.


 

Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument Street | Phone 410-685-3750 | Website

 

Used Book Sale and Free Museum Admission all weekend!

Friday, October 2 – Sunday, October 4, 2015
Open during regular museum hours
(Friday/Saturday, 10 AM-5 PM; Sunday 12-5 PM)

BookSale

Come peruse thousands of titles, including a wide selection of Maryland themed books, as well as popular fiction, reference, non-fiction, and much more for bargain prices. Lithographs, photo prints, antique and rare books will also be on sale.

Spend $10 or more during the used book sale and receive a free copy of In Full Glory Reflected: Maryland During the War of 1812. And, don’t miss out on the Sunday Special Deal: all you can carry for just $3!

Admission will be FREE all weekend! No registration necessary.


 

The Maryland Humanities Council
108 West Centre Street | 410-685-0095 | Website

 

MDHumCouncil

On September 19, join the Maryland Humanities Council for our Literary Walking Tour of Mount Vernon! This guided 90-minute walking tour takes you past Mount Vernon’s elegant mansions and majestic cultural institutions and into the minds of Baltimore’s literary luminaries. Follow in the footsteps of the many famous authors, poets, and editors who sojourned in Baltimore’s cultural hub. Registration is required for this tour: register here.

On September 25-26, the Center for the Humanities at Loyola University Maryland will host Democracy and the Humanities, a free two-day symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The symposium is co-sponsored by the Maryland Humanities Council, the Council of Independent Colleges, National Humanities Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Council of Graduate Schools in America, and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa. Featured speakers include NEH Chairman William Adams, who will also appear on Humanities Connection, MHC’s weekly program on WYPR, on Thursday, September 17 to reflect on fifty years of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Book discussions, film screenings, and other interactive programming around this year’s bestselling One Maryland One Book, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, take place throughout the city in September and October at Enoch Pratt Free Library branches. Visit the MHC online calendar to find one near you!

On October 17, join the Maryland Humanities Council for its final Literary Walking Tour of Mount Vernon of the 2015 season! Tickets are $10 per person; register online now!


 

Peabody Institute
1 East Mount Vernon Place | Phone: 410-234-4500 | Website

 

Hajime Teri Murai

Peabody Symphony Orchestra
Season Opener

September 26, 8 PM

Music Director: Hajime Teri Murai

Hajime Teri Murai leads the PSO in the first Peabody concert of the season, performing Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony and Selected Songs by Richard Strauss featuring Sylvia L. Green Voice Competition Winner Alexandra Razskazoff, soprano.

Tickets: $15 Adults, $10 Seniors, $5 Students. Click here or call 410-234-4800 for more information.

Location: Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall, 17 E Mt Vernon Place, Baltimore, Peabody Institute

The Peabody Trio
September 29, 8 PM

Peabody’s resident faculty ensemble performs a program of works by Schnittke, Loevendie, and Beethoven to open the 2015-16 Sylvia Adalman Chamber Series.

Tickets: $15 Adults, $10 Seniors, $5 Students. Click here or call 410-234-4800 for more information.

Location: Leith Symington Griswold Hall, 17 E Mt Vernon Place, Baltimore, Peabody Institute


 

Spotlighters Theatre
817 Saint Paul Street | Phone: 410-752-1225 | Website

 

A SENSATION NOVEL

A SENSATION NOVEL
Sept 11 – Oct 4, 2015

Book: W.S. Gilbert
Music: Michael Nash, T German Reed
direction: Michael Blum
musical direction: Erica Rome & Michael Blum

Synopsis: W. S. Gilbert, long before he worked with Arthur Sullivan, was Victorian England’s leading dramatist. In this hilarious topsy-turvy send-up of Victorian “Sensation Novels” (a genre still with us today as Romance Fiction), Gilbert gives us 5 “stock characters” who refuse to conform to society’s expectations or the novel’s author’s plans for them – they turn the story upside down, break all the conventions of the stage, and indulge in some VERY modern activities. This musical play, with a new score by British composer Michael Nash that incorporates some of the original (mostly lost) music, is both outrageous, touching and funny – a window into an 1871 that was FAR from stodgy and predictable!

Tickets: Adults $20; Seniors (60+) $18; Students & Military $16.
Ten Spot Thursday – ALL TICKETS JUST $10: Sept 17, 2015 at 8 PM (no other discounts apply)

Talk Back with Cast & Director: Sept 27, 2015 immediately following the performance.

Performance Dates: Sept 11, 12, 13; 17, 18, 19, 20; 25, 26, 27; Oct 2, 3, 4.

Purchase tickets by clicking here.

AFTER-SCHOOL ACADEMY
Fall 2015

(Programs begin late Sept, and run through week of Nov 16)

Collage

Below are a few of the classes we are offering this semester:

If you are interested – please complete this online survey so that we can schedule the classes you want – when you want them. We will use information from the Survey Responses to schedule which classes are held, depending on response and on which days of the week, each class is held.

K-3rd grades: Actors Tool Box I
An introduction to acting and theatre. Focusing on the basic skills and concepts needed to present fully developed characters and telling the story of the play. Students learn about developing characters and the components of a play, using creative drama work to devise their own work. Students work in the areas of Improv Acting, Movement & Physical Acting, Voice & Projection. (6-8 weeks)

4th-8th grades: Actors Tool Box II
An introduction to acting and theatre. Taking the next step for students with limited theatre experience to students with classroom training, this program focuses on the needs of each student to help them improve their skill level and tackle more difficult work on stage. Students work with local theatre professionals to gain a better understanding of character development and stagework. (6-8 weeks)

6-8th grades: Shakespeare for the Middle School Actor
Tackling the major works of William Shakespeare to provide a general understanding of the work and its characters, this class provides students a wide range of knowledge of the writings of Shakespeare and some of his best known works. Students will read each work and discuss the various plots, while developing a character study on a single character and preparing a scene from the work. (8-10 weeks)

6th – 8th grades: Intro to Dance for the Middle School Actor
Focusing on primary dance forms for Musical Theatre, this workshop will prepare the non-dancer for basic work in most Musical Theatre productions, and improve confidence in the audition process. Providing a familiarization with terms and concepts from Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Stage Movement, this workshop give the Young Actor the advantage. (8-10 weeks)

More classes may be developed over the next few weeks.

Full Tuition for classes: $125
Discount for Returning or Sibling Students: $95
LIMITED Scholarship Funds are available, please request a Financial Aid Application from Academy@spotlighters.org

For more information visit www.spotlighters.org.


 

The Walters Art Museum
600 N. Charles Street | Phone: 410-547-9000 | Website

 

MakeNightBreathe

Make Night: A Moment to Breathe
Thursday, September 17, 2015 | 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Katherine Kasdorf, Mellon Fellow in South Asian and Islamic Art, begins this Make Night with a discussion of works from the Walters’ Asian art collection. Following the talk, Martha McAlpine of Charm City Yoga will lead a 90-minute kundalini yoga workshop for all skill levels in the serene Renaissance Sculpture Court. Kundalini is used to release the “coiled energy” at the base of the spine so that it can flow up and out through the crown of the head. Participants will practice simple breathing techniques paired with repeated physical motions that strengthen and open the physical body.

A limited number of mats will be available, so please bring your own.

Charm City Yoga Members will receive the member discount. Please contact Jayne Levinson or Allison Korycki at 800-336-9642, ext. 1, for the member code.

Martha McAlpine has practiced yoga for 16 years, exploring astanga, vinyasa, yin, kundalini, yoga trance dance, and, most recently, anusara styles of yoga. Her classes emphasize the space from one pose to the next as well as the poses themselves.

Make Night is a unique, dynamic museum program blending good wine and craft beer, great company, and fantastic art-making experiences led by local creative minds.

Click here to register (pre-registration required). Each Make Night includes one drink ticket.

GlobalStories

Telling Global Stories
Sunday, September 20, 2015 | 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM

How does globalization inform the way that museums present art and history? A panel of professionals from museums that have undertaken innovative displays in response to new ideas on “globalized” art history will address the opportunities and pitfalls of reinstalling collections that reflect this theme. Through dialogue with the audience, panelists will guide a conversation about how the Walters might use its displays to reflect a broader cultural context.

Panelists:

Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art, Yale University

Amelia Peck, Marica F. Vilcek Curator, American Wing, and Manager, Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sara Devine, Manager of Audience Engagement and Interpretive Materials, Brooklyn Museum

Alex Kalman, Co-founder, Mmuseumm, New York

This event is free. Click here to register (pre-registration is required). Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

Freedom to Read

The Freedom to Read
Thursday, October 1, 2015 | 6:30 PM to 8 PM

In conjunction with the Enoch Pratt Free Library and Banned Books Week (September 27 – October 3), join us for a talk on the power of words and art. Chief Curator Rob Mintz will speak about the issues of censorship raised in Liu Dan’s painting The Dictionary (1991), currently on view. Dr. Mintz will be joined by Ellen Riordan, the Pratt’s Chief of Planning, Programming and Partnerships, to discuss recent examples of the most frequently banned books, a few of which will be on view next to The Dictionary.

Following the talk, visitors will be treated to a “read out” of passages from banned books. If you would like to read a portion of your own favorite banned book during this program, please e-mail Hannah Burstein, Coordinator of Adult Programs, at hburstein@thewalters.org.

Following this event, the Walters Enthusiasts invite you to a reception featuring literary-themed cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres at Ware House 518 (518 N. Charles St.). For more information, please email WE@thewalters.org or visit the Facebook event page.


Until next month,
laura-sig

Laura Rodini
Executive Director, The Mount Vernon Cultural District

The Mount Vernon Cultural District Is
A Proud Partner of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and Visit Baltimore

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