Shocking developments in East Baltimore

Several more rowhouses on Gay Street in East Baltimore are slated for renovation. (Sun Staff) by Dan Rodricks

Once upon a time in the old city, in the Baltimore we can only imagine because so much of it has vanished, members of the Eastside Association Reindeer Club gathered in a Formstone-covered rowhouse in the 1200 block of E. Preston Street. The place is empty now, a rowhouse without a row, the last structure standing on the north side of the block. Members of the social club, and most of the socializing such places once represented, are gone.

But I’m not here for nostalgia, or for dreary contemplations about how much bigger and better Baltimore used to be.

We need to get to the other side of the street because, despite all dark and dystopian views, there’s a lot going on there — the hard sweat of wrecking crews and carpenters, of brick salvagers and bricklayers. I’m not talking about tall cranes and towering buildings so much as the gritty, ground-level work of everyday redevelopment in the old rowhouse neighborhoods. There’s a shocking amount of it in East Baltimore.

Across Preston Street from the abandoned Reindeer Club, for instance, there’s a three-story apartment building in the middle of the block, rowhouses on either side, with the front entrance set back from the sidewalk. Once upon a time, the setback and arched, marble entrance must have given the building a touch of grandeur.

Read More