The Baltimore Pumphouse is a historic renovation project designed to create a center for commercial and community activity. The goal is to restore a blighted, 3.5-acre brownfield site with a campus of food-related enterprises.
With key development partners Humanim and the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition, ACT is transforming a city water pumping station built in the 1890s. Used by Baltimore City for a century, the properties were abandoned in the 1990s. The 3.5-acre site later served as a filming location for the HBO program The Wire.

ACT began restoring the site, first through extensive environmental clean-up, in September 2016. In November 2017, Humanim’s City Seeds  social enterprise opened its doors. Through catering contracts with businesses and institutions like Kaiser and Johns Hopkins, City Seeds provides employment and training in the food industry for local residents. Construction on the Baltimore Pumphouse is slated for completion in spring 2019.

The Baltimore Pumphouse project responds to needs identified by residents through the East Baltimore Revitalization Project, a community planning initiative for Broadway East.

Food Hub History

In 1888, Baltimore City purchased 3.5 acres of land from George S. Brown for the Eastern High-Service Pumping Station and Storage Yard, now the home of the Baltimore Pumphouse. Designed by architect Jackson C. Gott, the Romanesque style buildings constructed by Henry R. Worthington cost $75,000 and were completed in 1891.

The buildings housed a machinery department and pumping station with a capacity of 5 million gallons per day, supplying the Guilford Reservoir with water from Lake Clifton. The station provided water service to properties between Huntingdon Avenue and Cold Spring Lane by supplying the reservoir through 36” pipes under York Road.

In 1901 a new stable and carriage house allowed an additional eight horses and carriages. In 1902 construction of the large fireproof storehouse (now known as Building 3) at Gay Street began. A new blacksmith shop was built in 1908 to replace one that burned down the previous year. Due to the war, “inspectresses” replaced inspectors in 1918.

A decade later, Baltimore City became one of the first large American cities to complete electrification of pumping. The same year, 1928, the new Hillen Pumping Station was placed into service and the Eastern Pumping Station was abandoned.

The city intended to remodel the station for meter testing, repair and storage, but later decided to remodel the decommissioned Mount Royal Pumping Station instead. In 1944, the Eastern Pumping Station served as a station for the Air Raid Organization.

We have found few records of the site’s use from the 1940s to 1990s. By the 2000s the site served as the filming location of Cutty’s Gym for the television series The Wire. As the buildings continued to fall into disrepair, the city used the site to store equipment. At some point the city began using the site as a dumping ground for tires and other debris. American Communities Trust purchased the site in 2016.

Thanks to Ronald Parks, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, for site history and photos.