The Bulletin turns 45!

The Bolton Hill Bulletin is entering its 45th year of publication, and in this milestone year, we have decided to move online. Doing so will allow us to include more images, longer articles, and different kinds of features, which we hope will help us broadcast more widely and more effectively all the great things about Bolton Hill.

For example, our first online issue features a much more complete and interactive calendar (accessible through a link in the top menu bar), which will be updated with all MRIA- and neighborhood-related events. Also check out the photo gallery accompanying Darma Kamenetz’s article on the renovation of the former Strawbridge Methodist Church (photos taken by neighbor Kellie Welborn), as well as links to Baltimore Heritage’s articles about the demolition of Freedom House in nearby Marble Hill and the preservation of Civil Rights-era buildings in Baltimore.

In honor of our 45th anniversary, as well as our move to online publication, we are collecting back issues for an online archive on this website. Please contact the editors if you have any old issues lying around, and help preserve the history of Bolton Hill.

Bolton Hill streetscape by Tim Goecke, used as the masthead for the Bolton Hill Bulletin for many years.
Bolton Hill streetscape by Tim Goecke, used as the masthead for the Bolton Hill Bulletin for many years.

We’d like to thank all the people who have kept the Bulletin going over the years: previous editors Judith McFadden, Penny Katzen, and Nancy Verkerke, our printer, Rob Dickerson, and volunteer designers, ad managers, artists, writers, and editors including Joan Garlow, Brande Neese, Tim Goecke, and Sally Maulsby.

We are planning to publish a brief and not-too-serious history of the Bulletin in our February issue. What stories or features do you recall from the Bulletin? Did you ever grace its pages–either as an author or a subject? We’d love to hear from readers about how the Bulletin has– and hasn’t– served Bolton Hill over the past four-and-a-half decades. Write to the editors, Peter Van Buren and Jean Lee Cole, if you have a story to share.

And if you have ideas about new features you’d like to see in the new online Bulletin— neighbor profiles? restaurant reviews? photographic features?– give us a holler!

MRIA’s New Social Justice League: Bring a Book, Party with a Purpose

Social-JusticeAfter the unrest in Baltimore in April, many of us wondered, “What can I do to make a difference in our community?” With this question in mind, MRIA Board members established the Social Justice League to encourage and facilitate engagement between Bolton Hill and existing organizations serving the greater Mount Royal area. The League seeks to improve our wider neighborhood community for all of those who live within it.

The League’s initial efforts are focusing on three main areas:

1.  Community Involvement Asset List   The League has started this MRIA Community Asset List with information on the many organizations that serve our community, along with their needs, including volunteers and monetary and material donations. The list is accessible through a permanent link under the MRIA tab on the Bulletin website’s main menu, and soon also on the main MRIA website and on MRIA’s Facebook page. The League intends to update the list regularly and welcomes input from Bulletin readers. This list should make it easy for everyone to find an organization whose mission aligns with their interests, talents, and resources.

2.  Neighborhood-wide Efforts   The League is identifying community organizations from the Asset List for concerted support from the neighborhood. They have selected the Baltimore Reading Partners and their book collection program for their first neighborhood-supported initiative. One of the cornerstones of the Reading Partners’ program, “Take Reading Home,” helps students build their own at-home library. After each tutoring session, every student can pick a book to take home and keep forever, thus enabling children to literally take ownership of their own learning.

To keep the program healthy and growing, new books are always needed. Help foster a lifelong love of reading by donating new or slightly used books appropriate for children from 6 to 12 years of age to our Bolton Hill Book Drive for Reading Partners. Local elementary school Furman Templeton Preparatory Academy at 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. participates in the Reading Program. Convenient book drop boxes have been placed in Bolton Hill in the vestibules at both 1309 and 1529 Bolton Street. You may also bring them to the next MRIA Board meeting on January 5th at Memorial Church or to the Party with a Purpose below. The Drive ends on January 31st.

3.  Parties with a Purpose   The League will sponsor and host gatherings throughout the year that combine a good party with organized time to address topics of importance. Enjoy food, wine and great conversation while being introduced to ideas and opportunities for new community engagement. Organizations from the Asset List may be asked to showcase their work in our community and explain how Bolton Hill neighbors can support their efforts.

The first Party with a Purpose features the No Boundaries Coalition and will be held on January 29, 2016 from 6-9 pm at a home in the neighborhood. To attend, please RSVP by email to, and you will receive details about the event. Plan on bringing a $5 (or more) cash donation for the No Boundaries Coalition and a bottle of wine to share.

Readers’ thoughts are welcomed regarding organizations for the Asset List, as well as suggestions for those which deserve special focus. To find out how you can get involved, please email to Current League members include Andrew and Kendra Parlock, Kellie Welborn, Rob Helfenbein, Michael Marcus, David Nyweide and Peter Van Buren.

Street Light Survey Gets Results

Streetlightby Sally Maulsby

Thanks to the many Bolton Hill residents who helped MRIA with their recent Lighting Survey to inventory our neighborhood street lights. The survey identified 18 street lights that were out or needed attention. Councilman Eric Costello has been notified and we should soon see more glowing lights on our streets.

If you notice a street light is out, please Contact Obie Chinemere in Councilman Costello’s office and give him the location. Office: 410-396-4816, Cell: 410-446-7962, Email:

You can also report non-working street lights to 311. When reporting a lighting problem to 311, make sure to note the tracking number of the report, which can be used to follow up with the Councilman’s office if it’s not fixed. Be as specific as possible when describing locations to Obie or 311 to ensure an adequate response.

The lighting committee and Councilman Costello’s office have been considering what can be done to improve the lighting at several neighborhood intersections and Sumpter Park.

What’s Going On at Strawbridge Church?

by Darma Kamenetz, photos by Kellie Welborn

You may have noticed activity of late around the former Strawbridge Methodist Church at the corner of Park Avenue and Wilson St. Yes, it’s true–it’s finally being restored. Bolton Hill Belfry, LLC, took ownership of the building in June, and now plans to bring the property back to its former glory.

Built in 1881, the building has been vacant for years and suffers severely from neglect. The structural integrity of all three of the interior spaces— a sanctuary, social hall and rectory— has been undermined by water penetration.

The good news is that the exquisite stained glass windows, aside from a few missing panes in the social hall, are intact. And although the magnificent stone walls and slate roof have deteriorated, they can be saved.

During the first stage of restoration, workers will rebuild the chimneys and buttresses, replace gutters and downspouts, repoint the exterior walls, and repair the slate roofs.

Gregory Kamenetz, president of Bolton Hill Belfry, is leaving the future use of the building open for discussion. “We can best address use once the building is restored— when people can come in and see and be inspired by the possibilities,” he said.

For more photos of the renovation, take a look at Kellie Welborn’s online album at

Civil Rights Landmark Demolished in Marble Hill

Civil Rights landmark Freedom House at 1234 Druid Hill Ave. in its final days.
1234 Druid Hill Ave. in its final days.

The unassuming brick townhouse at 1234 Druid Hill Ave. (at the corner of Lanvale and Druid Hill Ave.) in Marble Hill, was demolished in November. Why should we care?

Also known as Freedom House, the house was an important site during the Civil Rights Movement, and home to prominent African American members of the Baltimore community.

Despite efforts undertaken by Baltimore Heritage and other preservation-minded folks, Bethel A.M.E. Church, which has owned the property for decades, decided to demolish the building rather than renovate. Click on the links for Baltimore Heritage’s account of these efforts as well as their call to preserve other endangered Baltimore Civil Rights sites.


The Power of a Good Samaritan: Tamika’s Story

by Peter Dunn

In July of 2012 Tamika was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. She had a fiancée and two young children. During the five months she underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she lost her job and then her apartment. In the midst of this crisis, Tamika found The Samaritan Community. They helped Tamika with food and clothing and gave her the encouragement and support she badly needed. She was overwhelmed by the love and support she received.

In 2014 things were looking up for Tamika. After recovering from her treatments, Tamika returned to work as a geriatric nurse. She was living with her two children and fiancée when he suddenly died from a heart attack. Once again, The Samaritan Community was there for her. “They just wouldn’t let me give up,” she said, looking back on that dark time. “They loved me and stood by me no matter what!”

Tamika is a survivor and is raising her two children while working full time as a licensed geriatric nurse. The Samaritan Community is deeply proud of Tamika and all she has accomplished

The Samaritan Community is based in Bolton Hill. Go to their website to see how you might get involved.

Qigong Class Fundraiser Continues

Qigong practice room at Bolton Hill Nursery
Qigong practice room at Bolton Hill Nursery

Started last October, Peter Van Buren will continue teaching Sheng Zhen Qigong Classes in the New Year, as a creative fundraiser for the Bolton Hill Nursery. The one-hour classes are offered every Wednesday evening from 6 to 7 pm at the Nursery’s main building, 204 W. Lanvale St.  Suggested donation: $10 per class or $75 for a 10-class pass.

Each weekly session will focus on one standing and one seated form of Sheng Zhen Gong, including Heaven Nature Gong, Heart Mind as One, Heart Spirit as One and Healing Qigong.

Sheng Zhen means “unconditional love”, and whether seated or standing, this qigong involves graceful, gentle, easy-to-learn movements that reduce stress and elevate your spirit. This class provides the perfect introduction to this wonderful practice, an easy entry to gain the benefits of improved health, relaxation and inner peace.

Open your heart and tap into your body’s naturally ability to heal. Join our practice and do something good for your body, your mind and your spirit.

Beginners, drop-ins and experienced students all are welcome. All proceeds go to the school. For more information and to register, visit

Please wear loose, comfortable clothing. Qigong can be practiced in shoes, socks or bare feet. No equipment is needed– just bring yourself and enjoy the practice.

One participant, Laura Jeanne, commented, “It’s amazing how much one short class balances out the whole week and helps me feel so centered.”

Two MICA Exhibits Open Now

Two exciting exhibits opened at MICA in mid-December and run through Sunday, March 13.

Arthur Buxton Italian Vogue Covers, 1981-2011
Arthur Buxton Italian Vogue Covers, 1981-2011

Just Press Print

Meyerhoff Gallery, MICA Fox Building
1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.

MICA presents Just Press Print, an art exhibition showcasing the collaboration of artists and educators from the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) at the University of the West of England.

Curated by Paul Laidler, Ph.D., the exhibition features 15 artists from CFPR Editions, a publishing studio of CFPR led by Laidler. Using digital prints, these contemporary printmakers explore the artistic, historical and industrial significance of creative print practices, processes and technologies.

The title of the exhibition was chosen to highlight the significant elements of the digital print that are often overlooked, Laidler said, including “the relationship and conversation between artist and publisher/master printer, the iterations that are necessary to achieve the final print and the need for archiving and recording the process.” It also depicts new trends in digital technology and the impact they may have on present standards and practices in printmaking. For more information, go to MICA’s website.

Hammond, Girdle, MICA
Harmony Hammond, Girdle, 1971

Queer Threads:
Crafting Identity and Community

Fox Building: Decker Gallery
1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.

Curated by Leslie Lohman of the Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community includes 24 artists based in around the world, including New York, Atlanta, Toronto, Cape Town and Buenos Aires, who use thread-based craft materials and techniques to examine the diversity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer experiences. Works included in the traveling exhibition are from 2008-2014.

The exhibition responds to the gender connotations, feminist herstories and power hierarchies situated within the history of fiber art and domestic handicrafts, while examining the icons, tastes, roles, relationships and spaces socialized within and around gay and lesbian culture. More information available at

MICA’s galleries are free and open to the public, Mondays–Saturdays, 10 am–5 pm, and Sundays, noon–5 pm.

BmoreFit Bit: Make Your New Year’s Resolution a Reality

Calvin n Hobbs

by Jon A. Kaplan

Have you made a New Year’s resolution yet?  If you are like most American promise-makers, you’ll have at least one resolution that’s related to health and fitness. Perhaps a promise to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose those love handles.

Although we can’t offer a magic wand to make those pounds disappear, we’ve collected some tips to help you keep your fitness resolutions.

  • Make a plan.  All successful businesses start with a business plan that describes their mission and specifics on how they will achieve it. Write out your own detailed, personal plan and you’ll be more likely to succeed.
  • Be realistic.  Resolving to look like a fitness model is not realistic for the majority of us, but promising to include daily physical activity in our lives is. Keep it real.
  • Don’t set yourself up to lose.  Don’t pick a resolution that you’ve been unsuccessful with in the past. Doing so will cause frustration and disappointment. If you’re still tempted to make a resolution that you’ve made before, then try altering it. For example, instead of resolving to lose 25 pounds, try promising to eat more salads and go to the gym more.
  • Find a support system.  Tell friends and family members about your plan so that you have someone to hold you accountable. Get a friend to join you in your mission. Just be sure to set limits so that your support system doesn’t get irritating–or irritated at you. For example, if you resolve to be active every day, don’t make your wife nag you about it.
  • Keep things simple.  Rather than one BIG end goal involving many different parts, separate a large goal into smaller pieces. Or set a series of incremental goals to achieve throughout the year. Then, even if you aren’t able to reach your final goal, you will have many smaller but still significant achievements along the way.
  • Reward yourself.  If you’ve stuck with your resolution for 1-2 months, treat yourself to something special. But be careful of your reward type. If you’ve lost 5 pounds, don’t give yourself a piece of cake as a reward. Instead, treat yourself to a something that isn’t food-related, like a massage.
  • Get professional assistance.  Everyone needs help, and sometimes a friend just isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the help of a trained professional. Don’t think that seeking help is a way of copping out. Especially when it comes to wellness, research studies have shown that assistance from a fitness professional greatly improves people’s success rate.

Jon Kaplan is the founder of BmoreFit and Fitness & Wellness Director at Meadow Mill Athletic Club. Email at

Poet’s Corner


A poem by Nell O’Hara

Sparks fly,
Aimlessly throwing shapes into the sky.

Every color,
Beauty no viewer can deny.

A spiral spins into the night.

Throws a star out of sight.

An unknown geometric shape.

A flower shoots to an unknown place.

Show on every face.

16-01 fireworks