View Across St. Mary’s Park in Seton Hill in West Baltimore

Friday’s ride took me down to the Maryland Historical Society for the second annual Bmore Historic conference. MdHS is in Mt. Vernon, and I just can’t imagine driving there, even if there aren’t bike racks right in front. I zipped down the hill in the cool morning air, getting joined by another conference attendee and passed by a bike commuter who really should have alerted me to his presence, seeing as how there was barely room for me. We have to share our roads, people, and that means we have to communicate with each other about what we’re doing because I cannot read your mind, nor do I have eyes in the back of my head. Ahem. Anyway, I locked up to a street sign and headed in to sign up for workshops and eat my body weight in munchkins before a good day of conversations with people who like to think about, talk about, and see what history can do. Afterward some of us joined Johns Hopkins for a walk around Seton Hill, a neighborhood just west of our location. It’s small and old, built by people fleeing the Haitian Revolution, or rather, by the enslaved people they brought with them. The alleys were tiny and the homes tiny too, and on a bike I’m not sure I’d have taken that particular right into St. Mary’s park, right behind Mother Seton’s house on North Paca Street, home to the first U.S.-born saint in the Catholic church. We learned a bit about her and then went behind the walls into the park, walls that used to enclose the entire area but were opened up for safety–I’d like to know more about who was being made safe and if it worked, but that’s for another time. I took this shot as we made our way around the back and in front of the chapel, which is either the last bit of gothic architecture in the city, or the first bit of gothic revival, depending on who’s counting. It was a beautiful sunny day, crispy even, and the trees and lawn framed the sky and the row houses in the distance in a way that I’d never have seen in a car, or even on a bike, for that matter. It was a good day full of interesting conversations and most excellent historical tidbits (did you know there aren’t any showy steps in front of the main branch of the Pratt Library because Enoch Pratt wanted women to be able to easily go in and check out books, prams and all?) that was capped off by a disappointing baseball result followed by good music and then a trip back up the hill on a chilly night–I’m glad I thought ahead and brought tights in my purse. Always be prepared!

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