As a participant of the 2018 Partners in Preservation campaign, Pennsylvania Avenue Main Street is encouraging the public to Vote Penn Ave (visit votepennave.com) to secure funding to help preserve the Arch Social Club. For nearly a century the Club has stood proudly as a cornerstone for Baltimore’s African-American civic, political and cultural life.
Established in 1905 as a meeting hall for “negro” men in a then segregated city, the Club brought together tradesmen, laborers, clergy professionals and entrepreneurs to craft strategies for addressing the issues of the day and to fellowship.
Arch Social Club is a Pennsylvania Ave Landmark. (Courtesy Photo)
Located at the center of Baltimore’s famed Pennsylvania Avenue, a prime stop along Black America’s storied “chitterling circuit,” the arch Social Club opened its doors to people from all walks of life and to the likes of Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Lena Horne and James Brown.
The Club also served as a meeting place for the civil rights movement, hosting the NAACP leaders Clarence and Juanita Mitchell, Thurgood Marshall and others.
In recent years the Arch Social Club has helped to launch talent such as jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut, R&B artists Dru Hill and Tupac, and served as safe-house and comfort station during the demonstrations that followed the death of Freddie Gray.
As Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Avenue, an American “Main Street” (designated by the Mayor of Baltimore) stands poised for revitalization, the Arch Social Club once again plays a pivotal role as a prominent cultural institution in the African-American community.
Through the proposed construction of a new theater marquee, the Club will serve to “shine a light” on efforts to redevelop this formerly vibrant commercial corridor and to welcome a new generation of civic leaders, artists, entrepreneurs and patrons to “The Avenue.”
American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in collaboration with Main Street America, recently announced that their annual Partners in Preservation
campaign is headed back to Main Street with a focus on sites that celebrate diversity and the fight for equality.
Partners in Preservation is a community-based partnership, created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places and their role in sustaining local communities.
To date, it has committed over $22 million in support of more than 200 historic sites across the country. Drawing on the success of the 2017 program, this year the campaign will award $2 million in grants to historic sites on America’s Main Streets. Each of the 20 sites featured in the campaign played a role in the development of a diverse nation or the struggle for equal rights.
Main Streets seeks to inspire long-term support from local citizens for sites on Main Street. Each local partner is receiving an initial grant of $20,000 to increase public awareness of the importance of these historic places and build grassroots support for their Main Street district.
The public will decide which historic sites will receive a share of $2 million in preservation funding by voting for their favorite main streets through Oct. 26 at
VoteYourMainStreet.org, hosted by media partner National Geographic. Winners will
be announced on Oct. 29.
For more information and to vote daily for Baltimore’s Arch Social Club through Oct. 26, visit pennave.com.