JMM Insights: It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
On May 29 we’re putting out the welcome mat as six of greater Jonestown’s well established historic and cultural attractions celebrate the arrival of three brand new facilities planned over the next few years. We hope you’ll join JMM, the Carroll Museums, Zion Church of Baltimore, Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Port Discovery, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, and B’Nai Israel: The Downtown Synagogue, in saying “welcome!” to our future neighbors.
We thought it might be a good idea to share the backstory behind this event. Most of you will recall that last October we facilitated the development of the Jonestown Vision Plan and the launch of the new Jonestown brand identity. In the months since, we’ve continued to work closely with the community and Historic Jonestown Inc. (HJI), led by Lindsay Thompson and Joe Cronyn on ways to put our ambitious goals into practice.
HJI is in the process of organizing itself into affinity groups, bringing together the neighborhood’s social service organizations, its religious institutions, its hospitality industry and its historic/cultural organizations to work on parts of the plan that are a natural fit with each group. Our historic/cultural group has been concentrating on events and programs. We felt very fortunate to be included in the Carroll Mansion’s current partnership in support of the All American House and we are studying other two-way and three-way collaborations to bring life to the streets of Jonestown, including tentative plans for a plein air art experience on surrounding streets later this summer.
Meanwhile we’ve had some terrific news about institutions bringing new activity and energy to our immediate vicinity. Just a block away from the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Ronald McDonald House is well on its way to starting construction on a new facility. The new Ronald McDonald House, which will be built at 1200 E. Baltimore Street, will reflect a commitment to incorporate best practices into all of its programs and services. The new house is intended to fulfill an institutional goal of establishing Baltimore as providing not only quality pediatric care but the most effective and compassionate family-centered care in the world. Amenities included in the design of the new house were carefully selected through input from staff, volunteers and families. The new House will serve approximately 55 families daily and 2,200 families a year. We intend to extend outreach to both volunteers and families. The coming of the new facility will also mean upgrades for the adjacent McKim Park.
And just a block away from the park, at 1100 E. Fayette Street, Kevin Plank and Under Armour have provided more than $6 million in support for a new recreation center, scheduled to open later this year. The new center will be operated by Living Classrooms. Jonestown’s cultural institutions are exploring ways to engage youth at the new center in our ongoing programs.
Go just a few blocks further down Fayette Street and you’ll come to 901, announced last January as the new site for the National Aquarium’s animal care and rescue center. Preparations are beginning now for an anticipated 2018 opening. The Aquarium hopes to provide some public access to this behind-the-scenes space. Jonestown has been welcoming new immigrants for more than 200 years – now we’ll have new arrivals with fins and tails as well.
It seemed like a great time to bring these new institutions into the Jonestown family. From 1pm to 4pm we’ll have family activities for every taste. Art projects, craft work, storytelling from Port Discovery and our new friends at the National Aquarium are bringing with a bearded dragon… just in case you’ve never seen a real dragon, or at least a real dragon with a beard. Admission to the Museum and to all the activities is free.
Speaking of every taste, there will also be birthday cake. Whose birthday you ask? Well Jonestown, of course. On June 15, 1641, David Jones built his home by the falls that bear his name (not to mention the expressway they put on top of it). So we’ve decided to jump the gun just a little and pull out the 355th birthday cake at our Jonestown celebration. It seems a fitting way to mark a milestone for Baltimore’s oldest neighborhood and newest destination: Jonestown – proudly we hail.