“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Upton in Baltimore, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Building Community Organizations

Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail

Building Community Organizations Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, March 4, 2017
1. Building Community Organizations Marker
Inscription.  In the 1930s, Old West Baltimore matured into a self-sustaining, thriving community that nurtured the mind, body and spirit. Old West Baltimore was home to many churches, shops, professional offices, banks and financial institutions, educational facilities and civic organizations. These businesses and institutions formed a tightly knit community that gave birth to each vulnerable institution as Provident Hospital and Colored Branch of the YMCA. The first Colored YMCA meeting occurred in 1885 at Union Baptist Church, at the behest of the Mutual Colored Brotherhood of Liberty. Frederick Douglass kicked off the three-day event as the keynote speaker. The current facility is located at 1609 Druid Hill Avenue.

In turn, the YWCA was founded in 1895 by seven spirited African American women who were members of the Druid Hill YMCA Women’s Auxiliary, including Martha Howard Murphy, the wife of the publisher of the Afro-American Newspaper. In 1896, this group bought a house at the corner of Dolphin Street and Druid Hill Avenue and began to provide employment services, relief to unwed mothers and classes in stenography and typing.

Other benevolent

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societies and fraternal organizations flocked to Old West Baltimore. In 1900, Baltimoreans founded a national African American branch of the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World. Just four years later, after this community pried the door open for African Americans into the organization, over 100 branches were operated by African Americans. In 1924, Prince Hall Masonic Lodge became the first African American Masonic Lodge in Maryland. The Arch Social Club formed in 1912 to provide beneficial and burial benefits to members. In 1972, the club moved to its current location on Pennsylvania Avenue.

(Inscriptions under the images on the right)
The Colored YMCA
The Colored YMCA was founded at Union Baptist Church in 1885. Members met in people’s houses until 1900 when the YMCA moved to a building on West Biddle Street. IN 1906, they moved to Druid Hill Avenue and in 1911 received a matching grant of $25,000 from John Rosenwold, one of the founder’s Sears Roebuck, to build a new facility. Within a year, the African American community raised over $75,000 to match the Rosenwold grant and around 1916 construction began.

The Elks Lodge
Founded in 1900, the Monumental Elks Lodge No. 3 provided a brotherhood and a platform for black employment. Lodges provided the only opportunity many African Americans had to “run for office,”

Building Community Organizations Marker-(Reverse Side) Welcome image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, March 4, 2017
2. Building Community Organizations Marker-(Reverse Side) Welcome
manage organizations and have their organizational ties. Elks joined forces with local churches to provide shelter, material support, money, and leadership to the Civil Rights Movement locally and nationally.

Masonic Lodge
Baltimore’s Prince Hall Lodge traces its origins to New England in 1784, where Prince Hall, the brother of black Masonry in the United States is credited with making it possible for African Americans to become Masons. In 1924, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge moved into its Eutaw Street location, a former synagogue. Their charitable donations and educational scholarships are legendary in the Baltimore community.

The Arch Social Club
Formerly located in downtown Baltimore, the Arch Social Club moved to its present location on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1972. It is one of the oldest African American social clubs in the United States. During the early 1900s African Americans’ social activities were restricted and access to insurance was difficult. To counter these racial practices, the club was incorporated in 1912 “for the social, moral and brotherhood spirit of its members and in order that charity may be practiced in a Christian spirit.”

Orchard Street Church (Baltimore Urban League)
Orchard Street Church was founded in 1925 by Trueman La Pratt, a former slave of Maryland Governor John Eager Howard. The church

Building Community Organizations Marker-Trinity Baptist Church in the background image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, March 4, 2017
3. Building Community Organizations Marker-Trinity Baptist Church in the background
provided housing, jobs, medical care and spiritual guidance to African Americans and others with a burden. This church is now home to the Baltimore Urban League (founded in 1921) and continues to provide social services for those in need. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harriet Tubman are lectured in historical announcements at the site.

Reverse Side of the Marker
Take a walk through history in storied Old West Baltimore. You’ll relive the glory days of Pennsylvania Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods. Follow the lives of inspiring people. Tour churches that served as places of empowerment and beacons of enlightenment, and gain new perspective on this African American community’s role in the struggle for civil rights. Explore at your own pace following these story signs to learn about Baltimore African Americans who helped build a city and changed the face of American music, art, literature and politics.

(Inscriptions under the images on the right)
1.Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland
2.The Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum
3.Douglas Memorial Community Church
4.Elks Lodge
5.Morriah Keyhole Houses
6.Booker T. Washington Middle School
7.Bethel AME Church
8.Union Baptist Church
9.Sharp Street Methodist Church
10.Henry Highland Garnet School/PS 103
11.The Royal Theatre Marquee Monument

Trinity Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Don Morfe, March 4, 2017
4. Trinity Baptist Church
Holiday Plaza
13.Macedonia Baptist Church
14.The Comedy Club
15.Trinity Baptist Church
17.Ideal Savings and Loan
18.Baltimore Masjid
19.Thurgood Marshall’s Childhood Home
20.Romare Bearden Mural.

(Inscriptions under the images)
*Listen, Can you feel it pulsating down the Street of Royalty?
*It’s bee-bop, jazz, comedy—and of course—the blues.
*All the greats were here. Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake and more!
*Learn about African American politicians and lawyers like William Ashbie Hawkins and George McMechan who fought against an ordinance segregating whites and blacks block by block.
*Visit churches that nurtured the soul, and also fed, clothed and housed the poor.
*Follow Thurgood Marshall from Henry Highland Garnet School/PS 103, to winning landmark Supreme Court cases, to becoming a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
*Learn how Old West Baltimore residents and church leaders played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and in the Buy Where You Can Work jobs campaign.
*And walk in the creative footsteps of writer Zora Neale Hurston, artist Romare Bearden and actors at the Arena Players.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans
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Churches & ReligionCivil Rights. In addition, it is included in the Martin Luther King, Jr. series list.
Location. 39° 18.27′ N, 76° 37.896′ W. Marker is in Baltimore, Maryland. It is in Upton. Marker is on Druid Hill Aveune. The marker is in front of Trinity Baptist Church. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1601 Druid Hill Aveune, Baltimore MD 21217, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Suffrage Leaders (within shouting distance of this marker); J. Howard Payne (1887-1960) House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Community Growth and Faith (about 400 feet away); Thurgood Marshall House (about 500 feet away); The Elks Lodge (about 600 feet away); American Legion Federal Post No. 19 (about 700 feet away); Buy Where You Can Work Campaign & Higher Education (approx. 0.2 miles away); Creating an African American Neighborhood (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Baltimore.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 16, 2021. It was originally submitted on March 5, 2017, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 309 times since then and 24 times this year. Last updated on March 16, 2021, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 5, 2017, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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May. 26, 2024