Next year, at Helping Up Mission, we will celebrate 125 years of continuous ministry in downtown Baltimore. Of course, neither Bob Gehman nor I were around in those early days (although he is older than I am!), but we will all stop and pay honor to the wonderful men and women who have come and gone before us in this work. It will be a very special time and we will want you to join us – so stay tuned.
But this Friday, we hit another milestone – our last day in 1029 East Baltimore Street, as it exists today. That afternoon we will lock all the doors and demolition crews will begin the process of taking down the old and bringing in the new. While the façade will be kept standing – it will actually be restored to how it looked when it was renovated in 1930 – and we will keep some interior architectural features, 16 months from now we will have a new five story building to house the central aspects of the Mission’s recovery programs.
Historical records indicate that the original structure located at what is now 1029 East Baltimore Street was a home built for publisher William Pechin in 1807. After decades as a private residence, in 1874, it became the Kelso Home for Orphans of the Methodist Episcopal Church. From 1889 to 1897, the building served as the German Branch of the YMCA, with alterations including a new gymnasium (the Mission’s famous maple hardwood “chapel floor”). Soon after, the building was raised to its present four stories and was known as Philanthropy Hall, a public meeting place. Purchased and refurbished again in 1909, it became the largest Hebrew day school in Baltimore – the Baltimore Talmud Torah – serving, at one time, as many as 1500 students. In the late 1920’s it served a short time as the Baltimore Conservatory of Music and was then renovated in 1930 (back to the future!) as the Workmen’s Circle Lyceum (a club promoting socialism and Yiddish culture).
Helping Up Mission bought the property in 1955 and it has housed our programs for over 50 years. Many staff and program members (past and present) have fond (and some not-so-fond!) memories of events in that building and this Friday’s chapel will be our farewell. Many of you also have memories of activities in 1029 East Baltimore Street and you are invited to join us this Friday at 1:30 PM in the chapel.
While we say thanks for the memories, we enthusiastically look forward to the new building and the opportunities it will afford us to better serve men in our city. 1029 East Baltimore Street will continue to be a place where men can come and find hope and answers for their lives. Helping Up Mission – 124 years and still going strong.
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director