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.

The Home Weekly, continued


The Home Weekly, Dec. 26, 1908, p. 2 listing the gifts given by students at Boys' Latin to their teachers.
The Home Weekly, Dec. 26, 1908, p. 2 listing the gifts given by students at Boys’ Latin to their teachers.

The 1908 Christmas issue of the Weekly was published on Dec. 19. It contained several Christmas-related pieces, though it’s not clear which, if any, received a prize from the editors. Gideon Stieff related “The Trials and Tribulations of a Santa Claus,” while Allan Davis penned a cautionary tale for naughty children determined to be “Seein’ Santa.” In this story, little Will, who hides under the sofa in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Santa, is discovered, at which point Santa “did not say anything but went over to the stockings and emptied poor Will’s of the toys and filled it with switches and coal.” Needless to say, Will never tried to catch Santa in the act again.

The issue also contains several regular features, including jokes—

A hug—a roundabout way of expressing affection.
A stitch in time often saves an embarrassing exposure.
People who live in glass houses should dress in the dark.

—and sports news. Boys’ Latin, we are told, decimated Loyola Blakefield in basketball, 41-5, while “the Friends School strengthened its hold on last place by losing to Deichmanns by 1 to 0.” (Deichmann’s School was one of several bilingual German-English schools in the Baltimore area that flourished between the end of the Civil War and World War I, after which anti-German sentiment resulted in their demise.) The editors continue, with more than a hint of irony, “We are pleased to note that the Friends School has not scored a single point since the league started.”

The issue also contained additional pieces of fiction, an editorial, and a new feature, the “Children’s Corner,” which Francis Davis instituted as a result of complaints from “the young folks” about being “neglected” by the editors.

In their opening editorial, the editors write, “we have tried in every way to make it as nearly as possible a success and if we say so ourselves, it is a pretty good number.” We think you will agree.

The Weekly was discontinued a few years later, perhaps because Francis left home for work or college. The Davis family also left Bolton Hill, relocating to Roland Park in the early 1920s. As is true of many childhood efforts, the Home Weekly was tragically forgotten, even by the Davis family. Only recently did John Davis rediscover his father’s early attempts at authorship, when he found nearly 300 pages of the Weekly preserved, in pristine condition, in the family safe. We are grateful to him and to his daughter Jenny for sharing these family treasures with the readers of the Bulletin.

Happy Holidays to all from all of us at the Bolton Hill Bulletin and MRIA!

Back to the December issue

President’s Address, MRIA Annual Meeting May 3, 2016

By Steve Howard

I am remarkably proud of this neighborhood. A year ago, I stood here and challenged you all to meet people who are different from you. And you rose to the challenge. I said that short-term and long-term change begins with the folks in this room.

Short-term change is already here. We have tripled the number of Bolton Hill residents who participate in the No Boundaries Coalition. We formed the “Partie with a Purpose” and raised both money and awareness.

The Mount Royal School came to us, asking for funds for their sixth-grade trip. As a board, we donated $500. But our Churches and Schools committee said that was not enough. They put on a chili fundraiser, and, with your help, raised an additional $3683!

The number of exciting and fun events right here in Bolton Hill is thoroughly impressive.

  • Memorial Players
  • Tiffany Series Concerts
  • BoltonStock
  • Crab feasts
  • School fundraisers
  • Soup nights
  • Parties with a Purpose
  • Parties without a purpose
  • Flash mobs
  • MICA Art Walk
  • Festival on the Hill

And much much more. If you can’t find something valuable to do in Bolton Hill, you just are not trying.

But it’s much more than having fun things to do. It’s about harnessing the creativity of our humanity. We do that here. The folks in this room already get it. And we are sharing that mindset in a new way.

When the rest of the city unleashes their creative potential the way that Bolton Hill already does, that is when we will be sure that Baltimore is living up to that old motto, “The Greatest City in America.”

We are so close. So close. Short-term change is already here. We still have some long-term challenges.

Our criminal justice system is still broken. Our schools still have challenges. And we need to find productive employment and living-wage jobs for all our citizens.

We are on the right track. We had elections just a week ago, a peaceful transition of power that demonstrates our commitment to a civil society.

Keep up the good work. Continue to protect our historic architecture. Continue to protect the beauty of our green spaces. Continue to work with our public safety partners: the Police Department, the State’s Attorney’s Office, Midtown Benefits, and MICA Public Safety.

But most of all, nurture the Bolton Hill spirit. Keep the creative energy flowing.

And share it. Share your creative energy.

It is in giving that we receive; it is in sharing that we grow.

To all of the MRIA members in this room, I tell you it has been an honor to serve as your president for the past two years.

I thank you for that honor.






Creative Connections (continued)

Previous page

Walking into Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts made for an intense change of scene. Our sessions there started at 3:30 p.m., just when school was getting out. McCulloh Street echoed with an explosion of shouts as students left the building.

Extra 1We met our students on stage, in their beautiful auditorium on the lower level of the building. OrchKids staff members Kay Sheppard and Belinda Caesar and Booker T.’s band teacher, Mr. Perry, helped get everyone lined up and focused before we started. But it was tough.

For the first two days, we struggled mightily, trying to start working together. Participants expressed such wildly varying moods and needs that it seemed impossible to all get all of us on the same page to make music together.

Real problems could not be ignored. One student had been jumped at the bus stop on her way home after practice, and accusations of who snitched or what had actually happened permeated our working environment. We walked a fine line between listening and allowing these young people to express themselves, and pushing to realize our potential.

After the third day of rehearsal, we all admitted that we were frustrated and feeling badly about how we sounded. We had been working super hard on a groove we had composed in a 9-beat time, and students wondered whether we should just make it less complicated by putting the piece in a straight 4/4 time.

Extra 2We showed up the next day determined to give our best, and everyone did. When we put that tricky groove in 9 back together with all its layers and parts, it worked! Everyone knew we had done something great, and the enthusiasm and collective energy was a celebration.

By day five, March 18, the composers became the orchestra, taking to the stage of the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to perform Leaps and Gaps before a large audience of Baltimore City schoolchildren, as well as friends and family of the performers.

This incredible concert included hip-hop dance, symphonic instrumental performances, bucket drums, spoken poetry, rap, and lush overlapping vocal harmonies. Booker T. students gave their all and performed with a rare, and raw, energy and determination.

Lasting over 50 minutes, Leaps and Gaps kept the audience rapt and engaged the whole time, repeatedly clapping and cheering for the performers. Everyone leapt to their feet at the end of the performance.

Kay Sheppard of OrchKids said, “it was an experience the kids and I will never forget! Might have been one of the toughest weeks, but it yielded the greatest reward.” She continued by thanking us “for always bringing that extra boost of positive energy into their lives!”


Each student’s voice had a place in the lyrics, the rhythm, and the melodies of the composition, but watching them perform on the Meyerhoff’s stage was even more magical. Carefully following the conductors, the various sections of the orchestra weaved their parts into the whole, augmented by many different soloists, not just instrumentalists, but dancers, singers, rappers, and speakers.

It was a transformative week of musicmaking that brought people and organizations together.

Founded in Baltimore, we at Creative Connections organized our first musical collaboration event here in 2009. Since then, we have returned every year to produce collaborations with Baltimore schools, while expanding our program to offer similar events throughout the country.

Creative Connections is led by a group of musicians, most of us trained in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s Master of Music Leadership Course. Samuel Mumford, guitar, and Ross McDouall, drums, both of London, joined the organization for the week at Booker T. Washington. Liza Barley, violin, and Gil Teixeira, guitar and electronics, are based in Pittsburgh.

Our Creative Connections team worked closely with eight Peabody students as part of a residency track to empower new leaders. These classically trained students give up their spring break to work intensively in Baltimore City public schools, earning two credits through this spring break course called Creative Leadership Immersion, where they are challenged to immerse themselves in the community and to play in new ways—improvising, learning by ear and engaging with a wide range of styles and genres of music. Just as the Peabody students bring their musicality to the Creative Connections project, the people of Baltimore City infuse Peabody students with a sense of joy and purpose.

The collaboration and sharing is entirely mutual for everyone involved.

Back to April 2016 issue

(Editors’ note: See Creative Connections’ Facebook page to watch a Channel 77/Education Channel video about the performance, including comments from many of the participants, as well as another video containing a five-minute portion of the actual performance, conducted by Jill. You just gotta hear it.)

From Year One, continued

Read the first part of the story here.

The impetus to begin publication may have been spurred by the neighborhood’s official designation as a Baltimore historic district in 1969, and its inclusion as the first Baltimore area on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), in 1971. The Bulletin became a key way to spread word of these designations and to explain their significance to residents and non-residents alike.

NRHP plaque
Story from Feb. 23, 1973 updating readers on Frank Shivers’ fundraising campaign to install a plaque commemorating Bolton Hill’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The plaque was installed in the Lafayette St. garden at Brown Memorial Church on Oct. 7.

In the third issue of the Bulletin, keeper of the NRHP William Murtagh described the list, established by federal legislation in 1966, as “a way to combat visual and cultural pollution, which can be just as depressing as air and water pollution.” Throughout the first year of the Bulletin’s existence, Verkerke consistently emphasized beautification, cleanliness, and appreciation of the neighborhood’s historic significance.

The “Neighbors in the News” column, a feature continuing to the present day, highlighted the accomplishments of neighborhood residents. In the first year of the newsletter’s publication, Bolton Hill residents (and their homes) were featured in local and national publications including the Baltimore Sun, Forbes, Better Homes and Gardens, and Esquire.

The Bulletin also kept residents abreast of the latest news regarding the development of the various parcels of vacant land surrounding and throughout the neighborhood, including:

  • Lot 19 and Lot 1 of the Madison Park South Redevelopment Plan at Mt. Royal and south of North Ave., resulting in the construction of the Bolton North high rise and the addition to Mt. Royal Elementary
  • the parcel that became the Linden Green condominium development
  • the site of Fitzgerald Park at the corner of Bolton and Wilson, former site of the Cornerstone Baptist Church (originally the Har Sinai Congregation synagogue), which had been destroyed by fire just three years earlier in 1969
  • the demolition of Deutsches Haus, which had housed a group of German singing societies since the 1930s and was also the former home of the Bryn Mawr School. (The Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall was built on the site.)
  • the purchasing and renovation of monumental rowhouses on the 1200 and 1300 blocks of Eutaw St., once home to prominent Baltimore citizens including Daniel Coit Gilman, Sidney Lanier, and Woodrow Wilson


Most of all, however, the Bulletin advocated for membership in MRIA, touted its accomplishments, and publicized its activities. “You have a super Board, who seek, strive, bend over backward, turn handsprings, to do their best for you,” Verkerke wrote in February 1973.

Within a year, the Bulletin declared that it was instrumental in bringing 100 new members to MRIA. It also became a tool to recruit new residents. A special issue distributed at the long-running annual City Fair (1970-1991), guest-edited by Frank Shivers (1400 block Bolton St.), featured a paean to Baltimore written by neighborhood literary lion Gerald Johnson (1300 block Bolton St.) and extolled the neighborhood’s beautiful architecture, plentiful amenities, and proximity both to cultural attractions in Baltimore and to lucrative jobs in D.C.

During its first year of publication, the Bulletin provides a poignant and sometimes amusing reminder of bygone Baltimore life. When the tiny houses between Lafayette and Mosher were homes for Bolton Hill’s very own artists’ colony, the Rutter St. Art Festival was held in each May and was a major fundraiser for MRIA. The Bolton Dinner Theater, located in Sutton Place, offered shows ranging from the familiar (“Charlie Brown”) to the more adventurous (“Moose, Why Are There Walnuts in the Medicine Cabinet?”). The Doll Hospital, 102 W. North Ave., advertised “Dolls repaired and redressed”—by appointment only—while the Panos Brothers Greek deli on Preston St. reminded readers that it could provide all the necessary ingredients for the “spanakopita, dolmadakia yialandji, or tiropetis” you might be planning for dinner.

Shops advertised in the Bulletin, 1973.
Bolton Hill Bulletin, Feb. 23, 1973, p. 3.

Everything in the Bulletin emphasized the benefits of city living, almost to a fault. One of the continuing features was the “Notable Quotables,” which focused on the joys of urban life and, whenever possible, denigrated the suburbs. In March 1973, for example, she quoted Margaret Mead, who wrote that “The first thing we have to get rid of is this horrible independent little misery called the suburban home.”

While reminding us of a bygone era, perusing these issues also reminds us how much has remained the same. MRIA still meets at 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month. Block parties, though less prevalent than they used to be, still provide festive occasions for neighbors to gather together in the spring, summer, and fall. Trash, then as always, was a perennial problem: “Plastic cans and trash bags are not rat-proof and their use is illegal,” Verkerke tersely reminded residents in July 1972.

Trash-- a problem then, a problem now. Bolton Hill Bulletin, May 20, 1972.
Trash– a problem then, a problem now. Bolton Hill Bulletin, May 20, 1972.

And what to do about man’s best friend, in one of the most dog-friendly but yard-starved areas of the city? This, it seems, was the crusade Editor Verkerke took on for herself. Nearly every issue included some mention of “the dog problem,” and Verkerke implored readers to “Curb Your Dog,” devoting stories, ads, and graphics to the cause.

Ad page, May 20, 1972.
The first “advertising page” appearing in the Bulletin, with the first ad– an almost subliminal plea to “(curb your dog).” May 20, 1972.

The issues from the first year of the Bulletin provide a colorful look into a scrappy but always civilized group of people who chose to call Bolton Hill home, people who chose to live in the city despite the problems that the 1968 riots made starkly visible to the rest of the city and to the nation. In Maulsby’s view, the Bulletin helped show that it was possible to have a “densely developed urban community that wasn’t a slum.”

We’ll be featuring additional tidbits From Year One– and beyond– in future issues of the Bulletin during this 45th anniversary year. If you have ideas of things we might feature, or if you have back issues stashed somewhere that could be added to our online archive, please contact us at