A New Year For the Mount Vernon Cultural District

February, 2014

Dear Reader,

It’s easy to see why Mount Vernon is considered to be the cultural heart of Baltimore. The riches of our Mount Vernon Cultural District are scattered throughout one of the most beautiful urban areas in the nation. The sheer abundance of world-class attractions within the boundaries of our neighborhood makes it a must-see place for any resident or tourist.

Since the founding of the Peabody Institute in 1857, Mount Vernon has enjoyed a continuing association with the arts. Whether you’re new to the area, or you’ve lived here your whole life, make sure you take time to see what’s going on at our Mount Vernon Cultural District member institutions – you’re in for a treat!

I would like to introduce you to our 2014 Mount Vernon Cultural District members:

Our 2014 Members


Baltimore Basilica
409 Cathedral Street | Phone: 410-727-3565 | Website


Baltimore Basilica
Courtesy Baltimore Basilica

Also known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Baltimore Basilica was built from 1806-1821, making it the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in America.

Closed from April 2004 until November 2006, the Basilica underwent a major restoration to return the church to its original design, as envisioned by America’s first bishop, John Carroll, and as planned by renowned architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Within the first year of reopening, over 200,000 visitors were welcomed from all over the world, to walk through history, participate in faith, and admire the Basilica’s stunning architecture.

The Basilica offers educational tours daily as well as hosts uplifting concerts and informative lectures. Its Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden is one of the treasured few green spaces in downtown Baltimore.


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


Center Stage
Courtesy Center Stage

Under the leadership of playwright, actor, and director Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE (Artistic Director) and national arts leader Stephen Richard (Managing Director), Center Stage is an artistically driven institution committed to engaging, entertaining, and enriching audiences of today and tomorrow through joyous and bold performance. The professional, nonprofit theater company is dedicated to the creation and presentation of a dynamic and diverse array of new and classic work, and each year hosts an audience of more than 100,000 in its historic home in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. With its signature focus on civic and community engagement, Center Stage, The State Theater of Maryland, enters its second 50 years with a commitment to exploring how art and entertainment communicate in the 21st century, and to igniting conversation in Baltimore and beyond.


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


Enoch Pratt

The Enoch Pratt Free Library is one of the oldest free public library systems in the United States. In January of 1882, Mr. Enoch Pratt offered a gift to the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore of a Central library, four branch libraries, and an endowment of $833,333.33. “My library,” said Mr. Pratt, “shall be for all, rich and poor without distinction of race or color, who, when properly accredited, can take out the books if they will handle them carefully and return them.” This central library, which opened in 1886, was located on Mulberry Street. The Cathedral Street building opened in 1933. The Pratt’s Mission: To provide equal access to information and services that support, empower, and enrich all who pursue knowledge, education, cultural enrichment, and lifelong learning.


The Garrett Jacobs Mansion
and Engineers’ Club
11 West Mt. Vernon Place | Phone: 410-539-6914 | Website


Garrett Jacobs
Courtesy Garrett Jacobs Mansion

Located on West Mt. Vernon Place, the Mansion is a jewel in the crown of Baltimore’s most distinctive historic homes.

A unique example of a building that combines the work of two of America’s most distinguished and influential architects: Stanford White and John Russell Pope, the mansion epitomizes nineteenth century Golden Age elegance and grandeur.

The Mansion’s owner, Mrs. Henry Barton Jacobs, was the social arbiter of Baltimore for many years and entertained in a truly regal manner, said to have been unequalled by any Baltimore hostess. Following her death in 1936, the Mansion was willed to Dr. Jacobs for life. After his death in 1939, the Mansion had several owners until 1961, when The Engineer’s Club leased the building from the city, which had planned to destroy the building as part of an urban renewal and expansion project. In 1962, the Club began a dedicated effort to preserve and maintain the historic structure. In 1992, a charitable 501(c)(3) foundation was established to ensure the future of this unique landmark.


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



The Maryland Historical Society is your starting place for exploring the people, places and events that shaped Maryland’s past. Founded in 1844, its mission is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the objects and materials that reflect Maryland’s diverse cultural heritage.” The Society is home to the original manuscript of the Star-Spangled Banner.


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


Maryland Humanities Council

The Maryland Humanities Council is a non-profit educational organization that stimulates and promotes informed dialogue and civic engagement on issues critical to Marylanders. The Council encourages public dialogue that interprets the human experience, promotes cross-cultural understanding, explores human values, strengthens our community, and connects us to the wider world. The public humanities programs, both staff-initiated and grant-supported, help provide a bridge between the academic community and the general public.


Peabody Institute and
George Peabody Library
1 East Mt. Vernon Place | Phone: 410-659-8100 | Website


Peabody Library

Image by Matthew Petroff

The Peabody Institute was America’s first music academy, and founded in 1857 by George Peabody, who is considered by many to be America’s first philanthropist. As part of one of the nation’s leading universities, Johns Hopkins, the Peabody Institute trains musicians and dancers of every level, from small children to seasoned professionals. Each year, Peabody stages more than 150 major concerts and performances, ranging from classical to contemporary to jazz, many of them free. The George Peabody Library is a remarkable research library housed in an outstanding building that is a showcase of 19th Century architecture. Dating from the founding of the Peabody Institute, over 300,000 volumes are housed, largely from the 18th and 19th centuries.


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


Maryland Humanities Council

The Audrey Herman SPOTLIGHTERS has been a part of the Baltimore Theatre Community since 1962. The theatre flourished under the leadership and artistic vision of Audrey Herman; her program of presenting a new show every month allowed for a wide variety of productions and many opportunities for directors, designers and actors to experience SPOTLIGHTERS’ intimate setting.

Following Audrey’s death in 1999, the theatre began its transition into a Maryland Public Charity, a recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Today, SPOTLIGHTERS Theatre seeks to continue Audrey’s vision of providing a variety of quality theatre and many opportunities for new artists to develop and refine their skills. SPOTLIGHTERS also continues to offer opportunities to new directors, designers and actors to test their skills in our intimate space.


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


Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum is internationally renowned for its collection of art, which was amassed substantially by two men, William and Henry Walters, and eventually bequeathed to the City of Baltimore. The collection presents an overview of world art from pre-dynastic Egypt to 20th-century Europe, and counts among its many treasures Greek sculpture and Roman sarcophagi; medieval ivories and Old Master paintings; Art Deco jewelry and 19th-century European and American masterpieces.

We’re proud of all of our 2014 Members, and we encourage all of the arts and cultural organizations in the area to join our Mount Vernon Cultural District today!

What’s Included In Your Mount Vernon Cultural District Membership?

As a member of our Mount Vernon Cultural District, you have the opportunity to reach thousands of area residents, employees and tourists through promotion in our monthly Mount Vernon Newsletter
You’ll also be able to send out discounts and special offers to our readers.
And, for the very first time, our members are uniting together to create a multi-channel marketing campaign for our Mount Vernon neighborhood. Imagine seeing your name in ads in The Baltimore Sun, City Paper, on television and radio – with the cost offset by generous contributions from area corporate sponsors!
We’re also working hard with city officials to offer our members special perks that will allow them to participate in landmark events like Flowermart, the Baltimore Book Festival and the Monument Lighting, at reduced rates.
So what are you waiting for? Schedule a membership appointment with me today!



A Special Note for Our
Restaurants & Small Businesses


Free Design File

If you are a small business or restaurant in the Mount Vernon area – stay tuned!

We invite your participation in our Mount Vernon Cultural District, and we’re looking forward to unveiling a special tier of membership just for you in 2014.

I will be in touch with you with all of the fabulous details in the spring.


‘Round The Neighborhood: The Washington Monument Restoration Begins


Washington Monument
Courtesy Wikipedia

The restoration of the monument has begun! As soon as the holiday lights were taken down, scaffolding went up around the Washington Monument. The $5.5 million project will entail masonry conservation and restoration of the monument’s original cast iron fence, mechanical systems, and interior finishes.

The Washington Monument was designed by architect Robert Mills and built between 1815-1829. Over one hundred and seventy-five feet tall, repairs were made to fix the basement, and clean and repoint the George Washington statue in 1982. The monument also underwent renovations for lead abatement in 1992.

Lewis Contractors, based in Owings Mills, MD, was selected to lead the current restoration. The company was responsible for restoring over a dozen landmarks in Baltimore, including the Baltimore Basilica and the Everyman Theatre.

Detail of Washington Monument
A detailed view of marble on the exterior of the Washington Monument that has started to deteriorate. – The Baltimore Sun

According to Lance Humphries, chairman of the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy restoration committee, it should take 13-16 months for the Washington Monument restoration to be completed. The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy hopes that the Monument will be open to the public around the time of its bicentennial in July, 2015.

You can read Humphries’ complete interview with the Maryland Historical Society, which includes fascinating historical images of the monument, on the Historical Society’s Underbelly blog by clicking here.

The Baltimore Sun has also been reporting on the restoration project, and in October, it published a fascinating slideshow featuring Humphries as he brought readers on a rarely seen tour inside the monument.

You can view the slideshow here.

What does the restoration project mean for Mount Vernon?

We learned from our friends at WTMD Radio that the scale of the project has caused them to move the 2014 First Thursdays concert series. WTMD is looking at the waterfront in Canton as an alternative venue. After meeting with WTMD, we have learned that they are hoping to return to Mount Vernon for the 2015 season.

Although the restoration will affect the First Thursday concerts, as of now, none of the other festivals in Mount Vernon appear to be affected. According to The Baltimore Sun, the annual Monument Lighting should continue through the renovations.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress from our friends at the Mt Vernon Conservancy, and we can’t wait to see the results!


What’s Happening Around Mount Vernon

For this month’s installment of the fun events at our Member organizations, check out our website.


Trivia Time!

Alright, you trivia buffs. This month’s question is a doozy: What was the original color of the fence surrounding the Washington Monument?

The answer can be found within one of the links of this month’s newsletter.

Email me your answer, and you could win a prize!


Laura Rodini
Executive Director, The Mount Vernon Cultural District

The Mount Vernon Cultural District Is Proud Partner of Visit Baltimore

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