Baltimore, as remembered by Janet Divel (née Vanik)

Ghosts of Baltimore
Our readers out there with careful eyes and unusually strong memories may have noticed that the maiden name in the title of this post seems familiar. Nearly two years ago, we glimpsed into the life of Frank Vanik, a blacksmith who lived at 2438 Eager Street, site of our very first deconstruction project.
hanging-door

2438 E Eager Street, as we found it nearly two years ago.

When we arrived on the scene, 2438 Eager Street had been long abandoned and was essentially four brick walls surrounding a pile of rotted lumber. Through census records, however, we were able to track Frank Vanik’s path from neighborhood blacksmith to shipyard worker to auto mechanic, a trajectory that we felt aptly captured the moment he lived in.
Two years after we first wrote about him, we’re happy to report that we have a bit more information about Frank, as well as some vividly and beautifully remembered stories of his former neighborhood, thanks to Janet Divel (née Vanik), his grand-niece, the woman you see in the photo below.
janet

Janet Divel (Vanik) in front of her house at 408 N Port Street. She is 14 in this photo. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

Janet saw our post about her great uncle and wrote to us. Turns out Janet grew up in the same neighborhood as Great Uncle Frank, a few blocks south of Eager Street on the 400 block of N Port Street. She lived there from the early 1940s until 1964, when she moved away from Baltimore. There’s no sense in trying to paraphrase her beautiful writing, so what follows is the letter that Janet sent us, interspersed with her own photos, as well as some that we’ve taken or sourced from elsewhere:
“Growing up in Baltimore City was a mixture of sounds, smells, sights and people. We in the late 40s, 50s, and early 60s lived a unique way of life, something that is disappearing. We were mostly growing up in a working class/low income area; there was no assistance those days. We never had much money, but we had the neighborhood, which we were all connected to and if someone needed help, if a neighbor could help they would…We all were responsible for something that we called neighborhood. Neighbors would be out front and in the alleys with their hoses and brooms and cleaning the streets and alleys. There was a lot of pride how your street and house looked not fancy but clean.
400-n-port

This shot, which Janet says was taken before she was born, probably in the 1930s, shows her neighborhood in East Baltimore. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

No one had air conditioning. In the summer we would all sit out front on the steps. We were taught that all of us knew those two words, respect and responsibility. One of my jobs when I turned 9 was to scrub the front steps which were marble slabs, take a bath every Saturday, run errands, clean the vestibule which was the very small entrance and get a job, when out of school; the average age out of school 15/17 years old.
After graduating the eighth grade from St. Wenceslaus School in 1953 on Collington Avenue and Madison Street, which is now a housing unit. I believe the church is still there. I went to St. Andrews Business School on Washington Street and Madison Street for two years after graduating I got a job. Now it’s a parking lot for Hopkins Hospital.
hopkins-parking-lot

Site of the former St. Andrew’s Commercial School. (Image courtesy of Google Maps)

Patterson Park, located on Patterson Park Avenue and Baltimore Street was the only country I grew up with. There was a playground and in the winter a place to sleigh ride. The park was fairly safe then, and we were young, not teenagers yet, but always went to the park with other friends. We looked out for each other. Growing up in the city made you street smart at a young age.
The boys in the neighborhood were always told on those narrow city streets, or yelled at, to go to the park to play baseball. When they hit the ball with a bat there were many windows in the way.
richard-baseball

This photo shows Janet’s brother, Richard, in the rear of their house at 408 N Port Street. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

Patterson Park was 4 blocks from my house. There was a Chinese pagoda type building on the Patterson park Avenue side which was always a mystery to me.
baltimore-105

(Image courtesy of postcard memory.com)

The sounds were lots of things. There was a church on Patterson Park Ave and Orleans St. that would chime every quarter, half, and whole hour. After a while you liked it. I knew what time it was. The traffic sounds on the 2400 block of Orleans Street, which was down the corner from house, all day and night. A huckster would come down the street with a horse and wagon selling watermelon and other fruits and veggies yelling “watermelon.” He would cut a pyramided slice for you to test it for sweetness. Down the back alley there would come a guy once a week yelling “get your scissors and gives sharpened here.” As the 50s disappeared, so did the hucksters. There was a stable on N. Bradford Street and E. Monument Street and a place where people made brooms. When they tore that down, it was over for that way of life.
Now the smells were great during the summer. Less than a block away there were two crab houses on the 2400 block of Orleans St., Patterson Park Avenue and Milton Ave. They were the Blue Point Crab house and Gordon’s Crab House. They would pick the crab meat there behind large glass windows, you could watch the ladies working. They had a menu of fresh crabs, steamed crabs, crab meat, crab cakes, soft crab sandwiches and crab cake subs. The local grocery and produce stores would always have soft crabs lying on a table with something that looked like wet hay lying on the top and you could pick out the soft crab that you wanted. One of the more popular things were coddies, shaped like a small hamburger made of potatoes and cod fish. The local stores would also have them on their counters with mustard and saltine crackers. You could buy one for 5 cents. Add a Pepsi with that and you had a meal.
From my upstairs window we could see the Esskay Meat factory sign, which was on 3800 East Baltimore Street til 1993, so depending on the way the wind blew, you could smell various meat smells. This place was one of the main employers in the area in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
Esskay.jpg

(Image courtesy of Kilduffs.com)

It’s like the factories disappeared and the city changed for the worst.
The sights and people were just about anything you could imagine. Busy and vibrant is the words I can think of. Local clubs (gangs) started appearing in the 50s, names like the Imperials and Imperialets, with red and white jackets, the Joyriders with green and white jackets, 7th wards, and many others. Just to make it clear, we were not violent or disrespectful, we were a bunch of kids having fun. The hangout places were North Rose Street and East Jefferson Street, the Arundel on North Bradford Street and East Monument Street and Patterson park Avenue and Madison.
dockie hunt.JPG

“Dockie” Hunt on the left. According to Janet, he was known as one of the best dressed guys in the neighborhood. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

Buses were the main type of transportation those days, especially in the early 50s, more and more of the young guys started to buy cars, old cars, nothing new, and they sure loved those cars. Old Fords, Chevrolets, and anything they could afford. Most of the cars were primered, looked like a dull black paint, and were never really painted. Who could afford that. There were garages near the train tracks off of North Luzerne Avenue, small, but that was the busiest place for all the young guys.
car-guys-baltimore

This photo shows Richard Vanik leaning on a Ford Fairlane. According to Janet, he’s around 13 in this photo, so he probably wasn’t driving this beast. (Image courtesy of Janet Divel)

We all had things happen to us, good and not so good, but I really believe all of us in the neighborhood would have not wanted to grow up anywhere else.”
Advertisements

Ghosts of Etting Street

Ghosts of Baltimore
Etting Street is the first block that we’ve done on the west side of town, so we’ll be dealing with different housing typologies from older eras, different builders, and a different set of folks who lived in these houses.
We’ve been working on the 1800 block of Etting Street, which appears to have been built around 1890. Before we get into the folks who lived there, it’s worth remembering the man whom the street is named after (many thanks to this Baltimore Heritage profile for info!)
etting.jpg

Solomon Etting. (Image courtesy of pafa.org)

Solomon Etting was a Jewish merchant and politician who moved to Baltimore from York, PA in 1791. Etting was a prominent citizen of Baltimore, a successful businessman who eventually joined as one of the founders of the B&O Railroad. Even with his successes and high standing, Etting was banned from holding office because of his faith. He thrice petitioned to be placed upon the same footing as other citizens, and was thrice denied. When the Jew Bill (yes, it was actually called that) was passed in 1826, it enabled Jews to hold public office, making Maryland the last state to grant these rights. Etting, thirty-five years after he arrived in Baltimore, won a City Council seat and was one of the first Jews to hold elected office in Maryland.
ettinggrave

A tombstone from the Etting Family Cemetery showing the “Etting” surname. (Image courtesy of http://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/items/show/507)

Etting created the Etting Family Cemetery when his daughter, Rebecca, died in 1799. This plot is the oldest Jewish cemetery in Baltimore. Among the burials is that of Zalman Rehine, who is reputed to be the first rabbi to come to America.
Now let’s discuss some of the folks who lived on the 1800 block. In 1910, it appears that all of the families living on this block were either listed as being Black or “mulatto.” Thus far, all of the blocks we’ve worked on have been in East Baltimore, and were originally built to house arriving European immigrants. The 1800 block of Etting is the first block that we’ve worked on that was built to house African-American Baltimoreans.

ettingmap1896

The 1800 block of Etting lies within the Upton neighborhood, which was one of the most affluent African-American neighborhoods in the country at the turn of the century. While many of the city’s prominent African-American citizens owned property in Upton, it was by no means exclusively wealthy. “The Bottom” referred to the southern and western portions of Upton, and it was here that many in the black working class lived. The 1800 block of Etting was within this region. A quick look at the jobs of inhabitants of that block confirms this: waiter, cook, laundress, seamstress pop up again and again.
Priscilla Burnette was a cook who lived at 1807 Etting Street in 1900. Ms. Burnette was 40 years old, widowed, and lived with her daughters Minnie and Berthe and her son William.  Ms. Burnette’s neighbors were also cooks, as was her daughter Minnie.
1807 etting

1807 Etting is the formstoned house to the left. (Image courtesy of Google)

Now here’s where it gets interesting. The 1900 census lists another Priscilla Burnett (no final ‘e’ in this surname), 44 yrs old, also widowed, who is listed as being a live-in “servant” and a cook for Israel Rosenfield and family. The Rosenfields lived at 2221 Eutaw Place, a large three-story brownstone in Reservoir Hill, just half a mile from 1803 Etting. This Priscilla Burnett, however, is listed as being white.

2221 eutaw.jpg

The two Priscilla Burnett(e)s have nearly identical names, similar ages, identical jobs, are both widowed, and live within a half mile radius of one another. We’re left with a couple options here: either there really were two people with insanely parallel lives, or it’s the same Priscilla Burnette listed as living in both places.
I think the second option is far more likely. But if that’s the case, why would her race be listed as “black” for one address and “white” for the other? This could be a simple clerical error, it could be that Ms. Burnette could “pass” for white, or it could be that the Rosenfields’, for some reason, declared to the census-taker that their servant was white. The 1910 census does not show a Ms. Burnette at either address, and it reveals that a new family had moved into 1807 Etting Street.
etting1807

The living room at 1807 Etting in its current state.

News About the Novaks!

Baltimore Lore, Ghosts of Baltimore

2308 madison entry novak

Over a year ago, we spotlighted the man who built the houses we deconstructed on Eager Street, Frank Novak. Legend has it that Novak built 7,000 rowhouses in East Baltimore, beginning in 1899 with the 700 block of Patterson Park, and moving north and east to help construct Baltimore’s rapidly developing suburbs.
Several months ago, we got an email from Elizabeth Day,  Novak’s great-grand-niece (Novak was her father’s great uncle), who shared some family history with us. She told us that her father, James Scroggs, had come across the blog and had enjoyed reading about his great uncle’s role in shaping Baltimore. We sent James a brick from one of Novak’s houses, and he more than repaid us with the wonderful history that follows:
Frank wasn’t the only entrepreneurial Novak: in 1907 (the same year the houses on Eager Street were built), Frank’s older brother Joseph opened a saloon at 2308 E Madison Street. Joseph ran the saloon until Rudolph, a younger brother, took it over in 1913. Rudolph ran the joint until 1920, when Prohibition forced him to convert it into a soda/fountain. James recounts that, “my mother’s recollections of the place were of a friendly neighborhood gathering place, a kind of ethnic pub where her mother and aunt cooked up Czech delicacies.”
James’ mother was named Florence, and in the photo below you can see her with her cousin Mildred Raborg in front of Novak’s Saloon. The photo was taken in 1918.

'18 Mildred Raborg & Florence Novak at door of Novak Saloon

James also sent along a photo of the same address nearly 80 years later:

2308 Madison St in 1996

Here’s what the intersection looks like today:

2308 madison

You can see that some of the original details remain: the ornamental brackets supporting the entryway are still there under several coats of paint, as are the marble slabs framing the entry landing.
James ended his email by noting that “Frank Novak seems to have been a very modest man. He deserves more credit.”
James also sent along Frank Novak’s obituary, which we’ll discuss in more detail in a later post.

Ghosts of Port Street: Part II (Port Street Wire Workers, Part Deux)

Ghosts of Baltimore
In the last Ghosts of Port Street, we featured Stephen Bohdal, a humble wireworker whose experience ultimately paid off when he created a patent for a “Combined Coat and Skirt Hanger.”
Bohdal lived at 900 N Port Street, and just next door, in 902, lived the Widra family. In 1910, the Widra family consisted of Peter, his wife Rose, and their three children, Rudolph, Charles, and Helen. Like his neighbor Bohdal, Peter was a wireworker. In fact, the two neighbors owned a wire works together at 717 E Fayette Street, appropriately named Widra and Bohdal.

902 n port

It seems the neighbors eventually went their separate ways, as both Widra and Bohdal opened their own businesses. Peter Widra & Company Ornamental Wire Works specialized in elevator cars, lawn settees, and bank railings, among other things. They operated out of a factory at 516 Ensor Street.

widra wire baltimore

By the time the 1920 Census was taken, Peter had died, and Rose was running the business. The family still lived at 902 N Port, though Rose’s mother, brother, and niece had moved in. Charles, who at 15 was the oldest Widra son, did not enter the family trade, and instead worked as a clerk at an insurance agent. In 1930, Charles had moved out to the suburbs where he worked as a press operator at an aircraft factory. By 1940, he had moved back home to East Baltimore, though he kept his work as an aircraft mechanic.
902 port rear

The rear of 902 Port after we took off the roof, peeled up the flooring, removed the joists, and manually took down the walls.

One imagines that the work of an aircraft mechanic must have been somewhat of a natural extension to the work of a wire worker. Maybe it was in Charles Widra’s blood? In looking at the earliest listing for the Widra family, the “d” in the name seems cut short, almost to the point that it looks like an “a”. The name seems to be written as “Wiara”. This could be the case, of course; perhaps the immigration official or census taker or whoever first wrote down the name “Wiara” wrote it in such a way that it looked like “Widra” and the new name just stuck. It is quite possible that the family’s original name was “Wiara”: in old German, it means “wire”.

widra wiara

 

 

Ghosts of Port Street: Part I (Stephen Bohdal, The Wonderful Wireworker)

Ghosts of Baltimore
900 n port

900 N Port Street, home to the Bohdal family beginning in 1908

The house at 900 N Port Street was only a year or two old when the 1910 census was taken. In that house lived the Bohdal family: Stephen, the 26 year-old head of the household (at least as listed on the census) lived with his wife, Eva, who was 28. The two of them had emigrated from Austria several years before, and lived with their three daughters, Annie, Antonie, and Mary. Filling out the household were Stephen’s mother, Dora, his brother, Michael, and a boarder named Jack Kardos. Oh wait, there’s more- Charles and Rose Nence, another Austrian couple, lived in the house, as well.
That makes 10 folks sharing the 900 square feet or so of 900 N Port Street.
A pile of reclaimed wood sits waiting to be processed in the Bohdal's living room, 107 years after they moved in

A pile of reclaimed wood sits waiting to be processed in the Bohdal’s living room, 107 years after they moved in.

Stephen Bohdal was a wireworker, as was his brother, Michael, and their boarder Jack. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sort of wire factory these fellows worked at- turns out that there was once a television show that had something to do with Baltimore and wire, so a Google search for “Baltimore + wire” isn’t too helpful.
But wireworking was once a popular trade here in Baltimore; window screens, steel cables, telegraph lines all relied on folks like the Bohdal brothers toiling away in wire factories.
Bohdal Wire works

(Image taken from 1914 Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics and Information of Maryland)

But Stephen Bohdal would not toil forever: by 1913, Stephen Bohdal owned a wire factory at 701 Ensor Street, and by 1930 he owned a bigger factory and was living down in Curtis Bay.
To what do we attribute his success? All those years messing with wire seemed to have paid off for Mr. Bohdal, as his familiarity with the material resulted in him being awarded a patent for a “Combined Coat and Skirt Hanger” in 1925. See his fantastical contraption below:

bohdal hanger

Ghosts of Eager Street: Part IX (The Five Lochmiller Brothers)

Ghosts of Baltimore
The five Lochmiller brothers were born in Maryland and raised by Amelia, a German widow, in a rowhouse on Abbott Street. William, the eldest, was the first and only brother to fly the coop when he got married, but the other brothers stayed with their mother until they were well into their late thirties.
By 1930, after Amelia had passed away, all five Lochmiller brothers had moved into 2402 Eager Street.
2402 eager street
William was listed as the head of the household. He was divorced, and he was employed as a suitcase maker at a leather factory. William’s brother, Louis, was also a suitcase maker at the factory. In fact, William and Louis had always been in the same profession, dating back to 1900 when they were both young harness makers.
Henry, the next oldest brother, was a guard at the penitentiary (a great job for someone with “loch” in their last name), while Samuel was a cook. It’s likely that Henry worked at the Maryland Penitentiary, a mile or so west on Eager Street. The imposing stone structure, with its iconic pyramidal roof, remains a haunting fixture in Baltimore’s roster of architecturally significant buildings.
maryland penitentiary
The youngest Lochmiller brother, Herman, was employed as a sponger at the textile factory. I don’t know what sort of work a “sponger” does, but I do know that the word is used to describe a person who lives at another’s expense, which might well describe the situation for Herman, the baby bro.
The five brothers were still living together in the house when the 1940 census was taken, but there had been a slight shift in the power dynamic. Henry, who was still working as a prison guard, was now listed as the head of the household, while older brother William had dropped a rung. William and Louis were still in the leather business, but Samuel was unemployed and Herman “The Sponger” Lochmiller was now working as a construction laborer.
We came across four different spellings for the brothers’ surname, with Lochmiller being the most commonly used. “Loch” means “hole” in German, which corresponds nicely with the current state of the brothers’ house at 2402 Eager Street:

2402 eager collapse

Ghosts of Eager Street: Part VIII

Ghosts of Baltimore
IMG_1152
The life of Frank Vanik, who lived much of his life at 2438 Eager Street, provides a glimpse at the progression of industry and technology during turn-of-the-century Baltimore.
By the time Frank emigrated from Austria in 1891, he was 21 years old and had learned a trade: blacksmithing. The 1900 census lists him as a blacksmith, and R.L. Polk and Co’s Baltimore City Directory from 1899 shows that he worked out of his home at 1012 N Durham Street. It’s likely that he was a neighborhood blacksmith, serving the Bohemian community that was settling in the neighborhood just to the north of the newly opened Johns Hopkins Hospital.

vnik

In 1910, Vanik was still working as a blacksmith, but he had moved out of his home shop to a larger machine shop. Without romanticizing and speculating too much, we can read Vanik’s transition from a small home-based blacksmith shop to an industrial machine shop as representative of the times, as industry, thirsty for skilled labor, sucked up capable hands.
By 1920, Vanik had moved into 2438 Eager Street. He was still working as a blacksmith, but he had moved on to work at a shipyard. Frank’s sons, Rudolph and George, also worked at a shipyard. It’s possible, maybe even likely, that the Vaniks worked at the Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard. There’d been steel production on Sparrows Point since 1899, but Bethlehem bought the plant in 1916, eventually turning it into the biggest steel mill in the world- at it’s height, in the 1950s, the plant employed nearly 31,000 people. The shipyard went on hiring sprees to churn out ships during both World Wars, so it’s possible that Vanik came aboard when Bethlehem bought the plant and stayed on through the 1920s.
SSHoxbar1919

A ship at Sparrows Point in 1919. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

By 1930, however, Vanik was no longer working at the shipyard. He was 60 years old, still blacksmithing, but his career path mirrored the steady rise of another 20th century phenomenon: the car. Frank is listed as a “blacksmith” at an auto repair shop- this may sound strange to our modern ears, but blacksmiths found a natural extension for their craft with the rapid rise of the automobile. Blacksmiths were urged to adapt in order to remain relevant. Blacksmith and Wheelwright, a trade publication, took the lead in suggesting an evolution of the trade, cribbing from Longfellow’s famous poem, “Village Blacksmith”:
Under a spreading blacksmith sign, the village blacksmith sat,
He heard the chuf-chuf-chuf and said: where is my business at?
The road is full of horseless things, and bikes and such as that…
All must at times get different tools, the world will never wait,
If we would live the strenuous life we must keep up to date.
IMG_1148

The rear wall of 2438, Frank Vanik’s house, as seen from the inside

 

Ghost of Eager Street: Pt. VII

Ghosts of Baltimore
The 1910 census is generally short on specifics when it comes to employers- though specific occupations are given (buttonhole maker, sheet-iron worker), the employer is usually listed as something generic like “can factory” or “shipyard”.
Not so with William Knabe’s Piano Forte Factory. William Knabe emigrated from Germany in 1831. He repaired and sold pianos at the corner of Lexington and Liberty Streets, before ultimately moving west to Eutaw Street where he opened the more substantial operation you see above (and below). Long story short, Knabe produced some of the best pianos in the world, in factories that were hailed as being among the most technologically advanced in the world.
An 1890 monograph about the piano forte confirmed the renown enjoyed by Knabe: “In the industrial and art history of the ‘Monumental City’, Knabe and Company occupy a pre-eminent place, and all Baltimoreans recognize this fact.” By 1906, the company had over 300,000 sq ft of factory space and was employing 765 people. Because of its size, importance, and likely familiarity with census takers, “Knabe’s Factory” is name-checked again and again in the 1910 census.
IMG_1059
Which brings us back to Eager Street. Frederick Tober, who in 1910 lived at 2420 Eager Street, the house you see above, emigrated from Germany in 1905. Along with hundreds of other skilled tradesmen who arrived at the turn of the century, Tober settled in East Baltimore but schlepped across town to work at established outfits like Knabe’s. Tober’s occupation is listed as a “cabinetmaker” at Knabe’s, but this may be misleading.
Knabe himself was a cabinetmaker before he became a pianomaker, and there’s ample reason to believe that the skills of the former profession lent themselves to the latter. Furthermore, city directories from 1907 and 1912, list Tober as a pianomaker and a woodworker, respectively. Tober, then, was likely a skilled artisan. In the photo below of prominent Knabe’s employees, Tober is the one standing in the top right.
tober
Tober did not stay on Eager Street for too long. It appears as though his skills ultimately earned him a gorgeous house in Hamilton, where he worked into his late sixties crafting church furniture.
By 1920, 2420 Eager Street was the home of Frank Giddy, the perfect name for someone who made his living mixing acid at a glass factory. Below is 2420 after we had manually removed the rear wall. We’d hoped to find some traces of Frederick Tober’s career as a woodworker, but so far the only unusual “wood” we’re found is 1970s paneling.
IMG_1019
And what ever happened to Knabe’s beautiful old factory? The site it occupied is now the home of our Super Bowl-bound Ravens. In a particularly awesome nod to the past (and further confirming the importance of Knabe’s in Baltimore lore), a patch of landscaping at the stadium was arranged into the piano shape you see below.
newsletter-piano-sidewalk-lg

Image courtesy of forsheypiano.com

 

Ghosts of Eager Street: Pt. VI (2406 aka The Butcher Shop)

Ghosts of Baltimore
Baltimore didn’t pass its first zoning ordinance until 1923. Before this date (and after, to some extent) the rowhouses that we now associate with residential living housed businesses galore. Eager Street (or Eager Place) was no exception. Take 2406, for example.
IMG_1053
Long before the bulky red awnings were added to the house, 2406 was the home and the butcher shop of Frank Kober. Frank (formerly Frans) came to Baltimore on September 18th, 1906 from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s hard to make out in the photo below, but in his immigration papers he lists his trade as “butcher.”
kober
The butcher business must have been good, because within a few years (or possible months) of arriving, Frank owned the house at 2406, where he lived with his wife and son. Frank moved his shop several times, eventually ending up in a desirable corner lot at 122 N Highland Street, where he cut meat into the late 1930s.
After Frank moved around the corner to N Luzerne, 2406 became the shop and home of Paul (born Pavel) Vanek, another butcher. Paul moved in to 2406 Eager Street somewhere around 1916. By the time the 1917 city directory was published, Paul had his shop set up.

vanekbutcher

By 1930, 2406 was no longer a butcher shop. When we started working in 2406, we didn’t yet know about the house’s history, but now that we’ve harvested nearly 500 square feet of original pine flooring, we’re tempted to see if we can’t detect faint scents of bacon as we process the wood.
IMG_0798

Larry pulls up flooring that was likely once soaked with animal blood.

Ghosts of Eager Street: Pt. V

Ghosts of Baltimore
IMG_1064

Front view of 2428 Eager Street today

In 1910, 2428 Eager Place was rented by Enrico Schiodi, a 28 yr old Italian tailor who lived with his wife Anna and his young daughters Rosina and Annie. With them lived another Italian family composed of Vincenzo Trimigliozzi, a 27 yr old shoemaker, his wife Ossunda and their infant son, Frank.
By 1920, some of the residents of 2428 Eager Place remained, but their names had changed. Enrico Schiodi, who now owned the house, became Enrico Chiord (at least as listed in the census- it’s likely the name was actually Chiodi). Anna, who had listed her name in the 1910 Census as “Anna M”, was now called Mary, which was probably her middle name. Rosina was now Rosa, and Annie stuck with Annie. The newest addition to the Chiodi family was named Willie. Enrico was still working as a tailor.
chiodi

In 1924, there were four Chiodis listed in the City’s business directory and they were all tailors

The last record we could find for Mr. Trimigliozzi is his draft registration card from 1918. It seems he left Baltimore at some point after 1910 and moved to Essex, NJ where he worked making uniforms.
The Chiodi family was still living at 2428 Eager Street when the 1930 census was taken. Enrico was 49 now, and his house that he’d bought for somewhere around $800 was now worth $3600, making it one of the most valuable on the block. Rosa was now Rose, and she worked as a bookkeeper for a contractor. Little Willie was now an apprentice machinist, though he was out of work at the time the census was taken. And Annie? Ms. Annie Chiodi was doing quite well for herself at the Maryland State Normal School (what we now know as Towson) where she played hockey and volleyball! Our exhaustive research tells us she was also the only person on her yearbook page to actually smile.

anniechiodi

By 1935, the Chiodi family no longer lived at 2428 Eager Street. The only record we could find was for Willie, who had moved into a brand new house at 2703 Bauernwood Drive in the suburb of Parkville. 2428 Eager Street was now occupied by the Alt Family, composed of Charles, a machinist, his wife, Elizabeth and their their three children.
IMG_1151

The rear of 2428. We picked away the brick from the back wall. eventually exposing the rotted guts of the house.

An interesting P.S. about this story from the You Can’t Make This Stuff Up File: a huge part of deconstruction involves processing the materials that we harvest from houses, and the bulk of processing involves denailing beautiful old wood. The name “Schiodi” struck us as a particularly interesting name, so we dug into the origin a bit: turns out “Schiodi” is the present subjunctive conjugation of “schiodare” which means, I kid you not, “to remove the nails from, to unnail.”