Preservation Month: How to Reuse a Room

Posted on May 21st, 2015 by

As decreed in 1973 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, May is Preservation Month!  Each year national, regional, and local organizations – including Preservation Maryland – take the opportunity to engage the public in discussion  about why preservation of the natural and built environment is important.

Though we are not a formal preservation organization, the JMM has delved into that side of history upon occasion.  The Lloyd Street Synagogue is, of course, a prime example; we were essentially founded (as the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland) to help save the building, which was threatened with demolition in the early 1960s.  Many individuals and organizations came together to preserve the oldest synagogue in Maryland, allowing us to share the building’s history and stories with our visitors for over 50 years.

Lester Levy and audience during the Lloyd Street Synagogue restoration dedication, 1962. Donated by Janet Fishbein (daughter of Susan Levy Bodenheimer), Ellen Patz, Ruth Gottesman & Vera Mende. JMM#2002.079.034

Lester Levy and audience during the Lloyd Street Synagogue restoration dedication, 1962. Donated by Janet Fishbein (daughter of Susan Levy Bodenheimer), Ellen Patz, Ruth Gottesman & Vera Mende. JMM#2002.079.034

A smaller and less well-known preservation project under our belt is the Hendler Creamery Company office, also known (now) as the JMM’s Rosen-Salganik Board Room.

The fireplace wall of the JMM’s Rosen-Salganik Board Room, May 2015.

The fireplace wall of the JMM’s Rosen-Salganik Board Room, May 2015.

The Hendler Creamery Company, founded in 1905, moved into an imposing structure at 1100 E. Baltimore Street in 1912.  The building had originally been constructed in 1892 as a cable-car powerhouse, and was briefly used as a Yiddish theater; the Hendler Company converted it into an automated ice cream factory.  Sometime between 1912 and the 1920s, Manuel Hendler commissioned a mahogany-paneled room –complete with brass fixtures and a large mantlepiece – to serve as his private office on the building’s second floor.

The Hendler Creamery building, decked out for the company's golden anniversary. JMM 1998.47.21.3

The Hendler Creamery building, decked out for the company’s golden anniversary. JMM 1998.47.21.3

After the creamery closed in the 1970s, the building was purchased by developer Samuel Boltansky.  In 1995 he donated to the JMM the room’s paneling and trim, in order to preserve this piece of the building’s history (albeit in a new location a block away).  The museum was about to undergo an expansion, and Bernard Fishman, our Director at the time, suggested we add a new space to the plans to accommodate Hendler’s office as completely as we could. Thus, in 1997, a local millwork firm installed the paneling, mantel, and lights into our brand-new Rosen-Salganik Board Room.

Two views of the paneling installation, July 1997.  JMM# IA 3.0491, IA 3.0526

Two views of the paneling installation, July 1997. JMM# IA 3.0491, IA 3.0526

Like many historic buildings and spaces, the Hendler office is a survivor, with multiple uses and locations along its journey.  Family stories tell us that the paneling came from a bar or saloon before Mr. Hendler, known as an avid collector, installed it in his office.  We can’t confirm that story, but physical evidence discovered during the Board Room installation process showed that the panels had already been retrofitted at least once; unfortunately, its prior history is unclear.

In the room’s current space, there are some variations from the original, of course; we have sturdy carpet, in place of a parquet floor, and a moderately plain rather than decorative plaster ceiling. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive space for JMM meetings, and a nice way to actively preserve and make use of this unique historic resource.

…As for the Hendler Creamery building itself – rest easy, preservationists; it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and plans are underway for an adaptive reuse development.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Once Upon a Time…09.12.2014

Posted on May 19th, 2015 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email


2002107100Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  September 12, 2014

PastPerfect Accession #:  2002.107.100

Status:  Partially Identified! Leisure Lounge volunteer facilitating a discussion n.d. The gentleman in front, with his hands folded in his lap, is Nathan Caplan (d. 1975). It is thought that this picture shows an English class for Russian immigrants at the Jewish Community Center.

Special Thanks To: Selma Sherman


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Ancient Egypt at the JMM

Posted on May 18th, 2015 by

I became involved in the development for The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen as I have a background in Egyptology, it isn’t something I ever expected to use when I started working at the JMM but recently it has been put to good use. In addition to working on the exhibit I have been able to plan a few programs that also draw on this knowledge.

Last month we held an Ancient Egypt family day here at the Museum. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t just the usual discussion of mummification but something that would teach some of the skills needed by an early Egyptologist like Mendes. We planned a series of interconnected activities that showed some of the process an archaeologist follows.



Understanding how to excavate was our first aim, everyone received their own archaeological dig to excavate. We started by carefully dividing the site into sections, these would be essential for recording our finds accurately . As we dug we also spoke about the importance of stratigraphy and how it helps to date a site and the objects we find.

Due to some careful planning everyone found the remains of two ceramic vessels which were carefully recorded and collected for the next stage.

ancient 2

Finds Analysis

This was an important part of the day that really taught some practical skills. We examined the pieces we found, discussing rim sherds especially. We looked at how they can be used to create a better impression of how a vessel may have originally looked, especially the size of the vessel. We also discussed why ceramics are such a common find on archaeological sites and what they can reveal.



Once we gathered as much information as possible regarding our sherds we stared the process of reconstruction, this took a lot of patience and a little creative thinking, but eventually we were able to reconstruct our precious artefacts!



The one thing that no Ancient Egypt day would be complete without is of course hieroglyphs. All of the materials that were excavated came ready inscribed with their ‘original’ contents, including bread, beer, cobras and fish. Once the translation was done we took the opportunity to do some writing in hieroglyphs ourselves.

Grave Goods

Finally we explored some of the types of object an archaeologist might discover. Most of the material that survives from Ancient Egypt, including all of the antiquities on display in The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, were originally intended for a funerary context. So we decided to make a few grave goods of our own including this fantastic death mask and some shabtis.

If you missed out on Egypt Day don’t worry! We have another great family day planned for June 14th, the closing day of The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen and Flag Day.

Trillion BremenA blog post by Programs Manager Trillion Attwood. To read more posts from Trillion click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Next Page »