Explore Baltimore Heritage App: Maryland House

A historical hidden gem within Druid Hill Park and the Maryland Zoo is The Maryland House, which sits by itself atop a hill near the Mansion House. Originally on display at the nation’s centennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1876, the building was dismantled and reconstructed in Druid Hill Park the following year.
After the relocation, the Maryland House became a natural history and archeology museum that specifically catered to young boys as an educational and recreation center. This was done under the supervision of Otto Lugger whose work enable children to visit the house and learn about geology and natural sciences which lasted until the 1880s when it was closed.
The Natural History of Society of Maryland reopened the Maryland House as a museum in 1936 after becoming a storage facility for nearly half a century.  For the next three decades, children were able to learn about geology and topography along with Native American artifacts and fossil models.  This complimented the over-all theme of the zoo since its citizens viewed it as a place where members of Baltimore’s community could come to learn about the living world around them.
In 1967, the authority of the house passed to the Baltimore Zoological Association who were able to renovate it before becoming offices for the zoo administration.

Sources:  “Druid Hill To Have Museum”  The Sun, May 3, 1936. pp. SC2

Becky Mangus. Druid Hill Park Revistited: A Pictoral Essay.  (Friends of Druid Hill Park. 1985) pp.35 & Druid Hill To Have Museum pp SC2

Source:  Content for History 705 Research Project by Jason Aglietti

Explore Baltimore Heritage App: The Main Valley

For over a century, the Main Valley starred as the focal point of the Maryland Zoo’s prized attractions. Featuring a diverse population of animals including elephants, bears, and an incredible number of species of birds, the Main Valley attracted visitors from all over the area.
Known in the 1870s as the “Baltimore Zoo,” early visionaries saw it as an opportunity to help children and their parents learn about the living world. Entrepreneur and Baltimore citizen, Henry “Birdman” Bishop helped get the zoo off the ground by securing woolly monkeys, elk, and species of birds for the zoo in the 1870s.   Within the next three decades, he helped expand the Main Valley and bring larger species of animals into the zoo, such as bears and elephants.
Yet the success of the Main Valley should be attributed to more than just one person.  Throughout its early history, Baltimore’s citizens fought to expand the zoo so it could be used as an educational tool for the city.  By 1925, the city’s Park Board approved plans to expand the zoo, but they never were fully realized due to the depression which hindered the zoo’s funding.  Things became worse for the Main Valley when, during the late 1930s, the zoo nearly closed when funding almost ran out.  Still, the zoo managed to rebound, and by the 1950s, safaris to Africa brought completely new additions to the Main Valley for the first time in decades.
The Main Valley continued to be a focal point for the zoo through the next several decades as members of Baltimore and its surrounding communities continued to visit the park.  However, in 2004 due to budget restraints over the need to completely rehabilitate the Main Valley, it was decided to close the Main Valley down and let the park around it flourish in its stead.

Sources: “Plans for Free Zoo — Mr. Henry Bishop’s work of 30 Years Promises Results.” The Sun. June 16th 1902. pp7

“CITY IS CALLED IDEAL LOCATION FOR LARGE ZOO: Hagenbeck Expert Says.”  The Sun. Mar 25, 1925 pp 28

“City Zoo Advancing Rapidly, Cleveland Bark Official Says.” The Sun. Oct 13, 1948pp15

Source:  Content for 705 Research Projet by Jason Aglietti

Explore Baltimore Heritage App Content: Maryland Zoo Polar Bear Exhibit

The polar bear has been one of the most important symbols of the Maryland Zoo for nearly a century. Although the manner in which the Maryland Zoo has displayed its Polar Bears has changed considerably over that time, the people of Baltimore’s love for this majestic animal has not diminished.

The Maryland Zoo’s collection of polar bears dates back to the 1920s.The Zoo wanted to acquire an exotic animal that would increase public awareness of its collection. “They’ll have ice-cream cones in each paw, suitcases full of ice, icicles on their snow-white fur, and they’ll be riding on 40-horsepower icebergs,” a whimsical Baltimore Sun article of the time claimed. The Zoo allowed local school children to enter a contest to name the new polar bears. It was an exciting time for animal-lovers throughout the city.

However, the Zoo’s initial display area for the polar bears was less hospitable than the welcome they received from Baltimoreans. The early habitats consisted only of a small cage and a tiny pool of water, a pale imitation of the bears natural Arctic habitat. The next few decades saw a series of steady improvements to the display areas of the Polar Bears. A 1942 renovation gave the Polar Bears access to a forty-foot pool which surrounded a stony island. The public got a better view of the bears thanks to the installation of a seventeen-foot high glass guard railing. Later renovations to the polar bear display created a space that closely mirrored the bears’ Arctic habitat. The decade-old Polar Bear Watch display is the most recent attempt to position the Maryland Zoo as primarily a conservation center, and not simply a place to gawk at exotic animals. Polar Bear Watch attempts to place the visitor in Churchill, Manitoba, “the polar bear capital of the world.” The bears now have access to grassy areas, two different pools, and much more open space. A replica of an Arctic tundra buggy helps the visitors to imagine themselves in the Canadian Arctic.

The people of Baltimore and beyond formed close relationships with the polar bears..Visitors in the 1940s threw coins into the pools occupied by the polar bears Fluffy and Snuffy for good luck. Baltimoreans and visitors from around the country have been riveted by news that its polar bears might be pregnant, and saddened when news appears that a bear has passed away. “Alaska, the polar bear who died recently at the Maryland Zoo, is a touching example of how animals can recover from years of deprived living conditions in circuses if given the opportunity,” a visitor wrote in a letter. The polar bears at the Maryland Zoo have become a recognized symbol not only of the zoo, but of Baltimore itself.


Source: Maryland Zoo Polar Bear Exhibit App Content by Andrew Young

Explore Baltimore Heritage App: The Path to the Children’s Zoo, The Dedicated Arthur Watson

The appointment of Arthur Watson, a known animal lover, as Zoo Director in 1948 dramatically altered the course of Maryland Zoo history. The number of zoo visitors declined since the turn of the century and it desperately needed support. At the same time, post-World War II peace and economic stability had recently created a new kind of consumer. Many families had enough money to support their burgeoning numbers and extra to spend on entertainment. Watson skillfully advertised the Maryland Zoo to these new promising consumers.

When the public would not come to the Zoo, Watson brought the zoo to the public. First, he took advantage of the newly commercialized television broadcasting. From 1949 to 1959, the “golden years” of television, Watson performed alongside select exotic animals in the television series This Is Your Zoo. The weekly show cleverly twisted advertisement, humor and awe together with real animals from the zoo like Betsy the chimpanzee and Jack the Mexican burro, both of whom painted “abstract art.” Further, Watson invented a traveling zoo to bring to classrooms and playgrounds. He also involved his family in outlandish photo opportunities (see photo below).

Watson’s outreach worked. By the mid 1950s, zoo attendance had increased. The Zoo was constantly advertised on TV and in The Baltimore Sun. Within this spotlight, Watson began his efforts to establish a specific place for young families at the zoo. He wanted to create a children’s zoo.

Probably influenced by the large crowds at popular children’s theme parks, such as Disneyland or The Enchanted Forest in Ellicott City, MD, Watson planned to combine a “storybook land,” including a petting zoo and a 19th-century replica “Zoo-Choo” train, with a barnyard with domesticated animals. The area would be enclosed to contain both free-roaming children and animals.

Watson mandated an admission charge for the Children’s Zoo. Some Baltimoreans voiced concerns over its exclusion of the poor. It was a time of great social upheaval. The Civil Rights Movement had already washed over the city in 1960 when Morgan State College students staged a successful sit-in to desegregate a department store restaurant. Still, on May 29th, 1963, the Children’s Zoo opened. Despite the entrance fee, it was incredibly popular for over two decades. Watson himself remained Zoo Director for 32 years.


Photo 1: Arthur Watson, his wife and daughter are each paired with a young primate at the dinner table. Note his daughter spoon-feeding one.

Photo 2: When asked if the Zoo would continue his famed public relations efforts, such as the animal painting, the former director replied, “The new team is opposed to that sort of thing. They believe that animals should be seen in their natural habitat…”

Photo 3 (no weblink): A long line of visitors wait to enter the Children’s Zoo.

Source: “Photo 1499” Photo File 4 of the Maryland Zoo Archives.

Source: The Path to the Children’s Zoo: The Dedicated Arthur Watson (App Content) by Molly Ricks

Explore Baltimore Heritage App: The Innovative Brian Rutledge and the New Children’s Zoo

The Giant Tree and Slide you see before you opened to the public in 1990. Inside, children can climb up a narrow staircase past small exhibits of local plants and animals (See Photo 1). Chipmunks, flying squirrels, screech owls, white-footed mice, and black rat snakes have all found a home in the tree at one point or another. At the top, kids can take the stairs back to the ground level or slide down a 26 ft. slide that goes through a hollow branch! While kids play in the trunk they learn about local Maryland wildlife that they can find in their own backyards! The goal is that this kind of contact with nature will inspire kids to work to conserve plant and animal life around the world and closer to home.

Brian Rutledge was appointed Zoo Director in 1983. He immediately began working on plans to update the children’s zoo (See Photo 2). What you see today is the result of his drive and innovative mind. Rutledge and the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore were at the forefront of cutting edge developments in zoological parks when the project began. There was a new focus on educating the public about ecology, evolution, and wild animals. Habitat-based exhibits like the Giant Tree and Slide immerse visitors in an environment to help them learn.

Many changes in zoos focused on educational practices targeted at children specifically. Participating in human-sized animal environments aids in the learning process. Seeing animals that would live in a hollow tree and travelling through the trunk teaches them about animal behavior and habitats. Because they are having fun and being active they learn more! All of these ideas originated in the zoo movements of the 1970s and 1980s that the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore was a part of.

In the 1960s and 1970s the Children’s Zoo had elements like the rocket ship slide that were fun, but lacked educational purpose (See Photo 3). The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore was one of the first to effectively apply new philosophies to an actual zoo. Thanks to exhibits like this one, the Children’s Zoo can call itself award-winning!

Photo 1 Caption: Kids begin their exciting exploration of the tree by entering at its roots!

Source: http://checkeyes1.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-maryland-zoo.html

Photo 2 Caption: Rutledge brought a live alligator to the House Appropriations committee to ask for $2.5 million dollars to finish the African Plains exhibit and the Children’s Zoo.

Source: http://baltimoresun.imagefortress.com/search/asset_details/1316798?adv[query]=Brian+Rutledge&page=1&results_index=9

Photo 3: Before its renovation in the 1980s, the Children’s Zoo had whimsical playground equipment without much educational value, like this Rocket Ship Slide. Thanks to Rutledge, they upgraded to a zoo that combines education and play! Compare the two slides yourself!

Source: http://baltimoresun.imagefortress.com/search/asset_details/1239685?adv[query]=Baltimore+Children’s+Zoo&page=1&results_index=10

*See the rest of the signage material on the websites of Jennifer Montooth and Molly Ricks.

Source: The Innovative Brian Rutledge and the New Children’s Zoo (App Content) by Katherine Fusick

Baltimore Heritage App: Interactions with Animals

Interactions with Animals

Every day twice a day, visitors and children can get up close to everything from a baby bird to a large snake. It is an exclusive chance to be exposed to animals that aren’t in the exhibits throughout the zoo. It’s like an expensive VIP pass you can buy to be a groupie and meet the band after their concert, except at the zoo it’s free. It also gives people a chance to learn about how seemingly random animals actually have important functions. This educational program is called Creature Encounters.

The evolution of Creature Encounters can be traced all the way back to 1933, when the superintendent realized that children appeared to be far more attracted to barn animals such as the cows and turkeys than to wild animals like the lions and eagles. He believed it was because of the perceived attractiveness and approachability of domesticated animals. Most of the children coming to the zoo in ‘30’s and ‘40’s were from the city, and had never been exposed to animals before! Being able to touch and interact with animals proved to be a memorable experience for visitors.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the Baltimore Zoo decided to raise their awareness on the importance and structure of wildlife. It started with the zoo giving exhibit tours every day to students where guides would explain the physiology, conservation, and ecology of animals. Students could then not only see a lion, but they would learn the kind of climate and habitat lions survive in, their role in the animal kingdom, and their risk of extinction. Wildlife education then expanded even further in 1983 when director Brian Rutledge created an educational program for children where tame and wild animals alike would be able to have safe interactions with children. This heightened awareness of animals and wildlife can create a higher level of appreciation of animals, rather than fear or harm towards them.

This combination of cognitive learning with compassion for animals has proved to be incredibly successful as an educational program. It has remained an important factor for previous and current zoo directors to continuously expose and educate children on wildlife and wild places.

Source: Interactions with Animals – App Content by Jenn Montooth

Baltimore Heritage App: The Mansion House Lawn

While the public has only sometimes enjoyed access to the interiors of the Mansion House since the Rogers family estate became Druid Hill Park in 1860, the lawn in front of it has always been an open-air stage of community (weather permitting).

Picnics, pageants, ceremonies, celebrations, and festivals of all kinds (like the Preakness Balloon Race, seen below) have drawn scores to what one reporter in 1918 described as the “slopes that form a natural amphitheater in front of the Mansion House.” Concert programs and an assortment of other public entertainments regularly brought Baltimoreans by the tens of thousands — African-American and white — to the lawn in the spring and summer months of the 1910s, 20s, 30s, and 40s. Its topography made it a natural choice for the annual Easter egg rolling contest held by the Playground Athletic League beginning 1924, a fixture of Baltimore childhood for decades.

The lawn has served as a venue for religious services, civic events, and political assemblies, as well. In August of 1943, the Unity-for-Victory Committee, organized by local chapters of the Urban League and the NAACP, held a rally here to promote racial cooperation in the middle of World War II; among the speakers was the singer and activist Paul Robeson. American soldiers camped on the lawn as they prepared to embark for Europe during the First World War, and the National Guard pitched their tents here in early April, 1968, while the Mansion House was being used a military base during the occupation of the city following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.

Until 1945, one of the lawn’s biggest attractions was the flock of Southdown sheep that grazed under the watch of collie dogs and full-time shepherds like George Standish McCleary, who as a boy in Virginia had rustled horses from the Union army to hand over to the Confederacy. Captain William Henry Cassell, the longtime superintendent of Druid Hill Park (and veteran of the Union), once quipped that “the collies attract more attention than the monkeys, and they can do almost anything but talk.”


I have two pictures that I think would accompany this well; the first is of the Preakness Balloon Race and the second, which appeared in the August 28, 1943 edition of the Afro-American, is of the Unity-for-Victory rally. I’ve included the ProQuest URL for the second picture but in my experience those can sometimes be a little tricky.



Source: App Content: The Mansion House Lawn by Andrew Holter

Explore Baltimore Heritage: “The Zoo Builds a Wall”

In 1970 the Maryland Zoo constructed a 3-mile fence around its entire perimeter. It was nine-feet high topped with six strings of barbed wire. For almost a century prior the zoo had been free – there was no fence. Visitors could move through the entire park unimpeded; from the low lying the southern half with its reservoir and plant conservatory (the flora to the zoo’s fauna), to its hilly, forested northern half, much of which is now enclosed within the zoo. Yet the fence not only blocked visitors from space and movement, it also reminded them of other divisions and inequalities in the city.

Baltimore saw massive changes in the two decades leading up to the fence. Swaths of citizens, mostly white, left the city, many re-settling in the surrounding Baltimore County. Significant loss of industries plummeted city incomes. Plans were underway to construct the fence just months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and subsequent three nights of devastating city riots. It is impossible not to realize the unfortunate timing that raising a fence around a free recreational site has when placed in historical context.

Movements for a fence and admission were prompted by vandalism, a crippling budget, inadequate security capabilities. In one year alone the Baltimore zoo had reported 31 animal deaths due to vandals and 49 due to packs of “wild dogs.” Reports of vandalism to zoo animals were heavily covered in news. Grisly accounts cite stoning and poisoning as causes to death. The accounts often blamed “hoodlums” and “negro youth” despite many occurring without witnesses. The undeniable racial currents in these reports indicate that inequalities and racial divisions in the city impacted perceptions about who was damaging the zoo. Yet despite protest from some vocal residents the fence went up. The zoo was able to make vast improvements from admissions. Within a year it hired its first full-time veterinarian and reported not a single death due to vandals.

Today the zoo’s fence assists in creating a physical barrier between two distinctly different parts of Northwest Baltimore. To the south and west lie the neighborhoods of Penn North, Reservoir Hill and Greater Mondawmin where 12-29 percent of families live under the poverty line and over 90 percent of residents are Black. To the north and east lie Medfield, Hampden, Woodberry and Remington where 8 percent of the families live below the poverty line and 77 percent are White (based on 2013 stats). What message might the fence be sending to its immediate community?



photograph from the Maryland Zoo archives, Box #3, white envelope labeled, “entry gate gift shop.”

b&w photograph with children waiting outside zoo entrance; no date but guess would be the 1970’s.

Source: Baltimore Heritage App Content: “The Zoo Builds a Wall” by Tucker Foltz

The “Mural” by the Biology Department (2013)

Location: The main wall of the Biological Sciences Building on the first floor across from of the Chemical & Biochemical Engineering Building. GPS Coordinates 39°15’16.9″N 76°42’43.7″W

During the summer of 2013, Ganna Vikhlyayeva, a student in the Department of Visual Arts at UMBC, completed the Mural near the Biological Sciences building. Vikhlyayave spent two months formulating the concept, and a month and half bringing the entire project to fruition.

In 2012, Vikhlyayeva set out to compete in the annual challenge contest known as Prove It. She proposed to paint a mural outside one of the walls near the Biological Sciences Building depicting undergraduates engaged in science and their connection to other organisms. The idea was to utilize the space to foster community values and to emphasize the extraordinary research conducted in that Department.

Despite losing the Prove It! Competition, the Chair of the Biology Department invited the artist to paint the mural after he saw the design. As a whole, the process of proposing and completing the unnamed Mural was the result of collaborations between departments and the civic engagement of those involved.

Wall near Biological Science Building - BeforeWall near Biological Science Building – Before
Mural near Biological Science Building - AfterMural near Biological Science Building – After
Mural near Biological Science Building - AfterMural near Biological Science Building – After


Photo Caption Text: Mural near the Biological Science Department

Suggested Tags: UMBC Campus Art

Source: Baltimore Heritage App Content – First Drafts by Andres Macias

The “Mnemonic” Sculpture (1976)

Location: West side of the Fine Arts Building, between the Engineering and Computer Science Buildings. GPS Coordinates 39°15’18.0″N 76°42’50.8″W

Sometime during the summer of 1976, a sculpture by Marc O’Carroll, an artist who worked and studied at UMBC, was installed on the west side of the Fine Arts Building. Entitled just Mnemonic, this piece of art reflects on the infrastructural expansion that UMBC underwent in the 1970’s.

During his time at the University, Marc O’Carroll grew fond of a massive and ancient sycamore tree that once stood behind the school’s Dining Hall. However, after the construction of the Commons Building started, workers cut down the tree in order to build a short driveway for trucks to pull into the site. As a result, once the school commissioned him for the project, and after two years of work at the UMBC’s studio, O’Carroll decided to pay homage to the sycamore tree by building the Mnemonic. He did so by designing the sculpture as a collection of steel trees in various stages of being chopped down.

By welding his memories in steel, Marc O’Carroll provided a dynamic sculpture that invites people to reminisce about nature and its surroundings. Although the artist is no longer at UMBC and neither is the massive sycamore tree, as the school’s paper once reported it, the Mnemonic carries on the memories of both.


Mnemonic SculptureMnemonic Sculpture
Mnemonic Tree Sculpture-09Mnemonic Sculpture

Photo Caption Text: Mnemonic Sculpture

Suggested Tags: UMBC Campus Art

Source: Baltimore Heritage App Content – First Drafts by Andres Macias