Other than introducing the members of our team, we’ve never featured an individual person on our website before—we typically promote destinations and businesses. Then I came across Jason Freeman’s Instagram account “Historic Homes of Baltimore,” and I knew I wanted to share it with our readers. Join me in learning more about how a simple hobby is inspiring thousands of people to engage with history and explore the largest city in Maryland.
How long have you lived in Baltimore?
My wife and I have lived here for six years—first in Mount Vernon, then in Federal Hill, and now we’re in Roland Park. Each of those neighborhoods have unique histories.
When did you start recording your visits to historic homes?
It was kind of on a whim! I started after my son was born three years ago. We were taking a lot of walks and I was spending more time outside. I’ve always been interested in history, and I began wondering about the stories of the people who lived in the houses we’d pass.
Do you work in the history field?
I work for Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore as a data analyst. I’m not a historian or an architect, and there are people who follow me who have more expertise in those areas than I do.
Where do you turn to uncover history about the various buildings you pass on your walks?
There are a lot of good resources, including Baltimore Heritage and the Maryland Center for Culture and History. I look at the Baltimore Sun archives using my library card. It’s like a Google search that goes back to the 1800s.
Sometimes I’ll stumble upon an address while I’m reading a book, other times I take a picture of a house because I like the way it looks and I then go and research it. A lot of historic neighborhoods are registered, and I can find interesting information about the homes there.
Do you have any favorite houses?
For an interesting story, check out 715 Charles Street in Mt. Vernon. My favorite house open to the public is Evergreen Museum & Library, a Gilded Age mansion located at 4545 Charles Street in North Baltimore. I’m partial to the eye-catching architecture of the Spring House at the Baltimore Museum of Art and Orianda House in Leakin Park.
You have 37K followers on Instagram! How do you like to engage with your followers?
The account started out for fun. I wasn’t trying to build an audience. It grew over time. I think with COVID, people were on their phones more, and I had more time to walk around and do research. Having the page has pushed me to explore neighborhoods I might not have otherwise thought to visit.
People often comment and give me suggestions on where I should go next, and some homeowners have invited me to see their houses. I led a walking tour for the first time recently to raise money for a park in my neighborhood, and I loved getting to meet people in person who share similar interests. It’s pushed me out of my comfort zone.
How has your hobby endeared you to where you live?
I’ve been able to learn so much about the city’s history and the state’s history just by walking around. The city today has been shaped by its history—most of the parks in the city started off as estates and still have the mansion on site, and were eventually donated to the city.
Say our readers want to make a day (or two) out of visiting historic homes in Baltimore. Where should they go?
These are my favorite places open to the public:
- Homewood Museum
- Lillie Carroll Jackson Civil Rights Museum
- 1 West Mount Vernon Place
- Hampton National Historic Site
- Star-Spangled Banner Flag House
- H.L. Mencken House
- Edgar Allan Poe House
- Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
- Robert Long House and Colonial Garden
Lead Photo: Jason Freeman