Alert: Unexpected Visitor to Neighborhood Dec. 25


The Editors of the Bolton Hill Bulletin received an anonymous missive identified only as being from Rudolph, North Pole, Planet Earth that the Bolton Hill neighborhood should prepare for the arrival of a large, cookie-devouring individual sometime between midnight and dawn on December 25. Homes with working chimneys are especially attractive to this seasonal visitor. 

To prepare for his arrival, Rudolph suggests the hanging of stockings and leaving out a plate of cookies with a glass of milk next to the fireplace (if you have one). It is unknown at this time whether or not the visitor, who has been reported to be male, elderly, bearded and dressed in a red coat and pantaloons, has any dietary restrictions.

Those who wish to avoid contact with the visitor may choose to stuff a pillow up the chimney, leave out carrot sticks, or pre-emptively place lumps of coal into their stockings.

The Editors thank Rudolph for his timely warning. Please direct any questions to: North Pole, Planet Earth.

Bolton Hill Nursery Seeks Garden, Scholarship Funds

Bolton Hill Nursery

Can you help make Louie’s last year at Bolton Hill Nursery the best one ever?

Louie Wilder will be stepping down as director of the Bolton Hill Nursery at the end of this school year. Her accomplishments over the past sixteen years have been many.

Under Louie’s leadership, the school’s enrollment grew from 35 children to a high of 120, before settling down to the current comfortable level of 84 children. Over the last four years, they moved from three rented classrooms and an office at Brown Memorial Church to purchasing and renovating their new home at 204 W. Lanvale. 

Along with her professional and creative staff, they have earned an excellent reputation in both the neighborhood and the city at large. Plus, they have taken over sponsorship for the neighborhood’s annual Festival on the Hill, and built it up so that this fall’s Festival was the best and most financially successful ever.

Louie would like to depart on a high note, so for this year’s annual fund drive, she is focusing on two key initiatives. 

Garden Fund: The garden in the northeast corner of the 204 W. Lanvale property need restoration and ongoing maintenance, both of which have been delayed due to the needs of the main building on the property, which was built in 1850. The establishment of a dedicated fund will help ensure that the garden, too, will be attended to and remain a place of restful beauty for generations to come.

Scholarship Program: Louie seeks to share Bolton Hill Nursery’s fantastic preschool curriculum with more families from the city at large. A robust scholarship program makes this great school more accessible to our neighbors.

These two projects cannot—and should not—be supported by tuition alone. Louie hopes that neighbors, alumni, Bolton Hill families and friends will help the Nursery achieve these goals before Louie steps down. “It is important to me to know these priorities, as well as the future health of the school, are well on their way to being met,” she said.

Donate online to Bolton Hill Nursery’s annual drive here.

We Need You! Join the Bulletin Team

72-06-10 masthead
An early Bulletin masthead from June 1972

By Co-editors Jean Lee Cole and Peter Van Buren

Faithful readers of the Bulletin have no doubt witnessed our growth over the past few years. To help sustain this new, bigger, more colorful, and better Bulletin, the MRIA Executive Board seeks to expand the Bulletin production team. 

With the help of a few more neighbors, one of Baltimore’s longest continually-running neighborhood newsletters can continue to serve the community by broadcasting news and telling our stories.

We seek to fill the following roles:

Managing Editor (total time commitment: 7-10 hours per month, concentrated between the 15th and 25th of each month).

In the middle of each month, the Managing Editor sends an email reminder to the list of regular contributors soliciting submissions, and then collects and organizes submissions as they come in and distribute to the Editor and the Calendar Editor as needed. The Managing Editor works with the Editor to finalize the stories that will run in each issue and uploads draft copy into individual WordPress stories. Skills required: strong organizational skills; ability to collaborate and function as liaison between writers, editor, and MRIA leadership; proficiency with WordPress (easy to learn). Understanding of journalistic style and how to construct stories a plus.

Calendar Editor (total time commitment: 2-4 hours per month, concentrated during the last week of the month).

The Calendar Editor ensures that calendar listings (approx. 10 items per month) contain all necessary information for each event, including date, time, location, and event description. He or she will upload the events to the Bulletin website using the calendar plug-in in WordPress. 
Skills required: strong organizational skills; ability to edit for brevity, clarity, and consistency; proficiency with WordPress (easy to learn).

Business Manager (total time commitment: 10-15 hours per year, concentrated between October-January).

The Business Manager solicits renewals for sponsorship contracts in October of each year; finds new sponsors if necessary; bills all sponsors for the membership year beginning Jan. 1; and ensures that invoices have been paid. 
Skills required: organizational and people skills; knowledge of neighborhood businesses and organizations.

These new members of the production team will assist Peter and Jean, who will continue in their roles as Editor (Peter) and Production Editor (Jean). The Editor is responsible for leading the publication, conveying its general attitude and tone, and determining what content is and is not appropriate for the Bulletin. The Production Editor copyedits all articles for both style and substance, edits images for optimal effect for online publication, and updates the website menus and archives with the publication of each issue.

If you have the time and skills to contribute to the cause, email us at

Share Some Holiday Cheer

Holiday Cheer

Make your December more enjoyable by attending these local events.

But first, start by sharing your good fortune with others and support local organizations in the 21217 zip code. This Holiday Giving and Volunteer Guide from the Social Action Task Force has all the information your need to make this easy. 

December 1-3 and 8-10 – Memorial Players’ production of A Christmas Carol; get tickets for a pre-show reception in advance.

December 7-10 – MICA’s Annual Art Market

December 9 – Garden Club Holiday Greens Sale

December 9 – North Avenue Knowledge Exchange Day

December 10 – Carols and Holiday Party at Linden Park Apartments

December 10 – Tiffany Series Brass and Organ Concert

December 31 – Brown Memorial Church Holiday Open House and Windows Tour

A Visit from Robert Lee

From Just Us to JusticeBy Grey Maggiano

One hundred years ago, to have any family of General Robert E. Lee visit Memorial Church in Bolton Hill would have been a momentous occasion. Hundreds likely would have gathered to be close to the defender of the South, and to celebrate all those who “fought for a cause that was right.”

So it was with not a little irony that I had the pleasure to welcome the Rev. Robert Wright Lee IV, descendant of the Confederate general, to Memorial Church to discuss undoing white supremacy, taking down monuments to the Confederacy and changing the narrative around race in our city.

On Sunday evening of November 26, the Rev. Lee spoke, in a discussion moderated by Pastor Montrell Haygood of the Garden Church, about his personal journey to disavowing the Confederacy and white supremacy, and about “What is Next?” for him and for us. 

The watershed moment, for him, was the rally in Charlottesville and in particular the death of Heather Heyer. He felt he could no longer stay silent and needed to speak out. He appeared at the MTV Music Awards in August, at the side of Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, and spoke in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in favor of taking down statues of Robert E. Lee and other prominent figures of the Confederacy.

Afterward, a significant number of his parishioners expressed their opposition to his statements and requested he step down.

Rev. Lee did not expect to be forced to resign from his Church for supporting Black Lives Matter, and it is still painful to him to see so many people that he loves and cares for not understand what is meant by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Rev. Lee offered some helpful reflections on the issue of monuments and racism — relating a story from the Book of Acts, where Paul is thrown in jail because he wants to bring a new way of viewing the world that would involve tearing down old statues. The caution, of course, is that those statues never came down; Paul’s “new way” was never really embraced in Ephesus. Our challenge is that while the monuments have come down we haven’t really changed the narrative around race here in Baltimore.

Pastor Haygood offered his own perspective as a black pastor at a purpose-built multi-racial church, reminding us that this work isn’t easy. They have issues not only regarding race, but also class and political beliefs, that make it hard to keep the congregation together. What has been most life-giving for him is the recognition that we don’t have to agree 100% to be in a community, we just have to agree that we need to be in community.

Rob reminded us that not everyone has to go on The View or MTV to make a difference, and that by developing authentic relationships with our neighbors, especially those of a different race, creed, identity or political persuasion, we can do a lot to craft a different way of dealing with race.

Neighbors from Bolton Hill and around the city shared their own stories of pain and hope around the issue of racism in Baltimore. To conclude the event, I asked The Rev. Lee the change he would like to see in Baltimore if he were to return in five years.

He said, “I would like to see the same investment that is put into the Inner Harbor and white communities be invested in black communities. I’d like to see re-development without gentrification. And I’d like to see people more openly and honestly having conversations about systemic racism here in the city.”

A tall order, but I believe Baltimore is up to meeting these challenges, and that our small corner of inner West Baltimore can lead the way.

Watch a recording of most of the evening’s conversation on YouTube here

Creativity Goes Wild at Great Pumpkin Party

By Chas Phillips

On a gorgeous October day in Bolton Hill, children and neighbors alike gathered at the Kappa Alpha Psi Youth and Community Center for the second annual Great Pumpkin Party. MRIA’s Social Action Task Force and Kappa Alpha Psi organized the party to provide a community-based Halloween event for the neighborhood.

Tiny witches, Supermen, princesses, clowns, vampires, dolphins, and pop-culture wizards slipped in and out of the array of donated costumes, while MICA volunteers applied their spooky artistic ability to dozens of faces. Creativity was also on display in the wide assortment of pumpkins decorated and proudly schlepped home by the party’s attendees.

Enthusiastic kids ran from the costume exchange tent to the pumpkin-decorating station before receiving the final touches at the face-painting booth. Thanks to generous donations, volunteers, and sponsors, everything at this Halloween celebration was enjoyed free of charge.

Local Color: Zelkova Serrata

Remarkable Trees of BHBy Sarah Lord

As we face forward to winter, memories of an unusually late fall remain.

In the drought, ginkgo trees dropped green leaves—and also golden ones after overdue rain. 

Japanese maples were hot as chili peppers and red maples glowed like neon. 

A single zelkova could put you in mind of a whole box of Jujyfruits.

Zelkova serrata entered our lives following the demise of the glorious American elm, Ulmus americana. Dutch elm disease ineluctably destroyed Baltimore’s most stately shade tree, planted in the early 1900s and admired for its elegant vase shape.

To replace it landscapers picked a southern European cousin in the elm family Ulmaceae, native also to Japan, Korea and eastern China. Its vase shape is a bit cluttered in comparison to Ulmus Americana, and the tree does not match its counterpart in grace. Nonetheless, zelkovas line Mt. Royal Avenue quite handsomely and their exfoliating trunks are visually interesting in wintertime.

Meet Albert: Taking a Healthy Approach to Future Success

Samaritan Community, Albert's food
Albert’s healthy meal prepared from Samaritan’s food pantry.

By Emily Reichart

Albert came to Samaritan Community in the spring of 2016. He was finishing his education to become a medical assistant and needed help with food and rent while he worked for his degree.

“I’d never had to receive help like this before and was very nervous about the process,” he explained. “A friend referred me to Samaritan and I am so glad he did. As soon as I walked in the door, I felt comfortable and respected. I knew I was in good hands.”

Being a vegetarian, he was nervous about receiving food from a pantry and what would be available for him.

“I assumed that a food pantry would have limited offerings. Wow, was I surprised! The quality and variety of the foods is more than I could have ever hoped for,” recalls Albert.

Since his first visit to Samaritan, Albert has successfully finished his studies and is currently doing administrative work for two medical employers, as he waits to take his exam to become a licensed medical assistant. Everyone at Samaritan is proud of Albert and all he has accomplished.

Meet the Lacovara Group

Hockey Fans Lacovara and Hagar
Hockey Fans: Avendui Lacovara with neighbor Donna Hagar

By Avendui Lacovara

I love being a realtor.

Whether it’s a stranger met at an open house, a friend of a friend, or a neighbor, all clients take a leap of faith trusting me with one of the major changes in their lives, and I am honored to help them.

Folks typically choose to move at moments when their lives change—when they get a new job or a raise, have a new baby and outgrow their home, become empty-nesters or retire.

Sometimes clients move just a few blocks away and sometimes they move across the country, but no matter why a client is moving or how far they are going, it’s always a privilege to help. I take the responsibility seriously.

While we love to sell grand, architecturally important properties like those in Bolton Hill and other historic neighborhoods, it’s helping people buy the home that’s right for them that matters most. Each of our team has stories of folks crying with joy as they receive keys to their new home.

One client’s story will always stick with me. As a result of the Great Recession, she had lost her job, and her credit rating had plummeted. With hard work and determination, she landed a new job, righted her financial ship, and bought her first home.

After signing all the papers at settlement, she broke down sobbing, because until that moment she hadn’t believed she could buy a home.

While not all sales are that fraught with emotion, helping someone create a life they love always moves us.

After selling solo for many years, in 2015 I formed the Lacovara Group. I joined up with another full-time agent, Tracey Clark, licensed assistant Ian Cameron and office administrator Joan Garlow. Our team ensures that all clients get the best personalized customer service.

Plus, we laugh have fun and laugh a lot.

The Lacovara Group is on call and available seven days a week. We work hard for our clients. It upsets me that realtors are sometimes thought of as used car salesmen, when the Lacovara Group prides itself on always having our clients’ best interests at heart.

People may not realize it, but we love helping stage a home to show it off, and we love when neighbors stop by our open houses. 

I’m also a big sports fan, especially hockey and soccer.

Visit the Lacovara Group online here.