Long-time Baltimore resident and artist Petula Caesar has been selected as the founding director of Baltimore Unity Hall, a community resource center located at 1505. (Photo credit/ Baltimore Unity Hall)

Baltimore Unity Hall will serve the city’s artists, small business owners and non-profit organizations.

By Tinashe Chingarande,
Special to the AFRO

A community resource center that doubles as studio space for artists and events officially opened on Eutaw Place June 17.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for Baltimore Unity Hall took place at the newly-erected building located at 1505 Eutaw Place.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, board members of Baltimore Unity Hall Inc., and other community members were present.

“This building was in complete disrepair, a blight on the neighborhood, sitting as an eyesore right along the main corridor,” said Scott in his remarks at the ceremony. “And you all took the initiative and turned what was a liability into an incredible asset for this community.” 

Prior to the opening, the AFRO spoke to Petula Caesar, the center’s founding director about the building’s construction process and her plans for the center.

“Finding decent quality and accessible, affordable venue space can be challenging at times,” said Caesar.

Caesar, a long-time performing artist, assumed her role as director in May. She emphasized that creatives and entrepreneurs in Baltimore need resources that allow them to pursue their work without cost hindrances. 

Under Caesar’s leadership, Baltimore’s Unity Hall will function as a hub where artists, small business and non-profit owners can locate support and resources, and rent spaces that are “decently below the market rate.”

“I know this from personal experience,” said Caesar. “The space should serve the needs of the community creatively and be a space to plan how to make Baltimore better.”

Caesar also wants to use the building to foster organic interactions between the affluent neighborhood of Bolton Hill and “disenfranchised Black communities” on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

“Usually folks can get to the table- but not everyone gets to eat. I hope everyone gets to eat.”

The 30,000 square foot building where the Unity Hall is located —originally built in 1964 as the Union Hall for Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers— was reenvisioned by local design firm Ziger/ Snead. 

Deferred maintenance on the building across the years led to its rapid decline and resulted in Memorial Apartments Corporation and Somerset Development Company partnering up to invest in renovating the building to serve the community, according to the Unity Hall’s website.

Though groundbreaking occurred in 2020, delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and a sudden halt in nationwide economic activity pushed the building’s opening to 2022.

Baltimore Unity Hall is divided into three levels and will include office rental space for entrepreneurs and an space for local community functions. 

The lower level features large event and training spaces with an adjacent commercial kitchen. The main level provides office and program space for nonprofits, an auditorium for community and cultural events and a gallery exhibition space. The upper level accommodates artist studios, co-working space, and office spaces with shared amenities— a breakroom, lounge, conference room, and wellness rooms.

Looking to the future, Caesar said that she wants the Unity Hall to be evidence of “community resources and allocation done right.”

“I want people imitating the heck out of us,” she said. 

The Unity Hall will partner with local organizations such as No Boundaries Coalition and Building Our Nation’s Daughter’s Inc. Additionally, artists and small businesses who rent space in the building will be integrated into the building’s decision making spaces as board members.

Caesar also wants to get more funding for the building.

“In my vision for what we’ll be doing, I’d like to figure out how to put in place that financial support piece that would entail from non-profits, the community and foundations,” she said. 

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