Notes on Urban Renewal in Baltimore – No. 2

From “Main Post Office Planned For 1970,” Carleton Jones, The Baltimore Sun, March 31, 1968.

I have been working on a long post about State Center for weeks but I wanted to share a shorter piece in the interim. I found some time this evening to write up a few notes on the delightfully Brutalist Baltimore Post Office built in 1972 as part of the Shot Tower Industrial Park urban renewal project. I hope to expand on this in the future with more context on urban renewal in Jonestown.

Baltimore Post Office (1972) – 900 East Fayette Street

With a floor area the size of sixteen football fields and a Brutalist façade composed of precast concrete panels, the Baltimore Post Office on East Fayette Street is a stark reminder of the scale and style of early 1970s urban renewal. The Post Office was designed in 1968 by Tatar & Kelly – a partnership of Seymour Tatar & W. Boulton Kelly – with Cochran, Stephenson & Donkervoet serving as associate architects. Further examples Tatar & Kelly can be found in modern buildings from the Enoch Pratt Free Library – Reisterstown Road Branch (1967), Steuart Hill Elementary School (1969) at Union Square, and the Baltimore County Public Library – Towson Branch (1974).

The builder, McCloskey-Leavell from Philadelphia, also developed the property under a build-lease scheme where the post office was built by a private enterprise, giving the federal government a lease and a later option to purchase. When the new building opened in 1972, the Post Office invested $5 million in new equipment with 4,000 employees. A 1971 account in The Baltimore Sun heralded the development as an anchor for the Shot Tower Industrial Park — a 24-acre area bounded by Colvin Street, Fayette Street, the Fallsway and Orleans Street.

Baltimore Museum of Industry, BG&E Print and Negative Collection, BGE.47525, 10/19/1971

One thought on “Notes on Urban Renewal in Baltimore – No. 2

  1. I am very interested in the Jonestown renewal project of the 60’s and 70’s. I have family who lived on High Street between Fayette (formerly Pitt) and Low. Three or four generations lived there from about 1799 to about 1883. They worked as bricklayers and carpenters, but they also seemed to have run a school from their home for many years.

    Information from the census and from the B’nai Israel history seems to show that the neighborhood became the home of the eastern European (mainly Russian) immigrants by the 1880’s. I have not really tried to follow the history of the neighborhood from that time. The block of High Street on which my family lived was completely subsumed by the Post Office in 1972.

    I would love to know what state the neighborhood was in by the 1960’s when the renewal project was begun. Did any of the 19th century homes survive until that time?

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