Some Strange Findings from our Basement

Posted on November 19, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink.

Basements are mysterious places, filled with all sorts of relics with which people couldn’t bear to part. And the JMM’s is no exception.  I’m not talking about the contents of our 4 collections rooms. Yesterday Archivist Jennifer Vess and I ventured into the one corner of the basement that no collections staff has unearthed since 1997. We removed a fortress of exhibition cases and publications to make passage to a double set of steel shelves possible.

We found a variety of interesting items:

-          Tablecloth for a card table, featuring of course, cards.

I am totally bummed that it doesn’t feature Mah Jongg tiles.

-          Wall Sconces from the Hendler Theater.

Wait. There was a Hendler Theater?! Please tell me know where!

-          A bag of earth from Israel collected by former Jewish Historical Society of Maryland curator Dr. Aberbach to be used in “the final resting place.”

It is unclear from the note why Judge Rifman would give the bag back to the JHSM.

-          Two bisque chickens (stored in a milk crate). According to the receipt, five were purchased by the JHSM in 1996 for $12 apiece.

Did the other three fly the coop?

-          Buckets and boxes of urban archaeology findings from the 1996 expansion of our building.

This bottle was even made in Baltimore.

And finally,

-          The accessioned items that I was looking for: two wheels of “wax artificial cheese.”

These items will be slated for deaccession and possibly used for a West Wing Big Block of Cheese Appreciation Day event.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Rebecca LL says:

    Can you PLEASE do a “Big Block of Cheese” Event? That would be AMAZING.

  2. Fred Shoken says:

    Regarding the wall sconces from the Hendler Theater, they are probably from the Hendler Creamery Building on East Baltimore Street a block up from JMM. The building was used as a theater for nine years.

    It was originally built as a power house for a cable car company and was occupied by the Baltimore City Passenger Railway Company and later the United Railways and Electric Company from 1892-1903.

    According the the National Register Nomination form, the building’s conversion to a theater from 1903 to 1912 links it to Baltimore’s early-20th century performing arts history, which includes melodrama, movies, opera, vaudeville, and, most importantly, the Yiddish theater serving the largely Jewish immigrant population. A second floor was installed above the first-floor engine room containing an auditorium and dressing rooms by Baltimore’s most famous theater impresario, James L. Kernan, who originally operated the venue as the Convention Hall Theater. Some of the city’s earliest motion pictures were shown there by Kernan. It was also known as the Bijou, the Princess, and the Baltimore Theater. For most of its life, it operated as a Jewish theater putting on performances of melodrama, comedy, and musicals in the Yiddish language.

    The building was purchased by the Hendler Ice Cream Company in 1912 and ice cream was made there for the next 50 years.

    • Jobi says:

      Thank you, Fred! I knew about the building’s history as a power house, and of course I knew about it as the creamery. In fact, I even knew there was a Yiddish Theater in the neighborhood but I didn’t put it all together.

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