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Hands on History
Since we’re a little short on space to fit the nearly 8,000 photos in his massive collection, historian Louis Diggs, B.A. ’79, M.P.A. ’82, hand-picked a few selections highlighting Baltimore County’s extensive African-American history.
a two-room schoolhouse in Winters Lane
a two-room schoolhouse built in 1867 in Catonsville’s African-American community of Winters Lane; all photos and information courtesy of Louis Diggs
Greenwood Electric Park was a popular entertainment venue owned and operated by the Catonsville Cooperative Corp., established in 1890 by a group of African-American men primarily from Winters Lane who pooled their resources to fund a variety of businesses
In the early to mid-1900s, an actual train ran through East Towson.
Baltimore County’s Rolling Road
Baltimore County’s Rolling Road once served as a route on which slaves would roll hogsheads (large casks) of tobacco toward ships waiting at Elkridge Landing.
Cockeysville’s “Pest House“
Diggs plans to renovate Cockeysville’s “Pest House,” built in 1872 for poor people with communicable diseases, to house the Louis S. Diggs Research Center for African-American History.
Monkton’s Marion Robinson
horse trainer Marion Robinson, from Monkton
Cowdensville’s Margaret Williams
Margaret Williams, from Arbutus’ Cowdensville neighborhood, is perhaps best known as the subject of an unsuccessful lawsuit filed by her father—with the help of Thurgood Marshall, former Supreme Court justice—alleging that she had been denied enrollment at Catonsville High School because of her race. At the time, no African-American high schools existed in Baltimore County; students had to attend one of three African-American high schools in the city.
East Towson’s Laura Smith
an early 20th-century photo of Laura Smith, from the African-American community of East Towson
Isaiah and Dena Harraday, relatives of Christine Washington from the African-American community of Granite—named for its quarries—near Randallstown and Woodstock
Douden’s Chapel in Putty Hill
Douden’s Chapel, formerly an African-American church in the Putty Hill area, dates back to the slavery era and reportedly served as a hiding place for runaway slaves.
the former Cherry Hill African Union Methodist Protestant Church
Diggs hopes to restore the former Cherry Hill African Union Methodist Protestant Church in Granite, built by former slaves who worked in the area’s quarries, and to create a “mini-museum” dedicated to local African-American history.
the former Anthony Theater in Turner Station
African Americans from Dundalk’s Turner Station and Sparrows Point communities built the (then-) state-of-the-art Anthony Theater in 1945. Today, the building is home to the Union Baptist Church.