Stories of the Jones Falls Mills Come Alive Though Signage Project

April 16, 2019


In December 2018, a series of interpretive signs have been installed at the historic mills that dot the valley of the Jones Falls. The signage project, funded in part through a BNHA small capital grant, goes beyond the buildings’ architecture and history and dives deeply into the people who worked in the mills and lived in the nearby communities.

In 2017, Preservation Maryland was awarded $14,000 from BNHA’s Small Capital Grant program for the research, design, and fabrication of the eight signs. Preservation Maryland raised additional funds for the $28,000 project.

“It was important to illuminate the lives of the laborers who worked in these factories,” said Meagan Baco, director of communications for Preservation Maryland. “We wanted to be clear and accurate about Baltimore’s labor history and to speak to issues such as child labor, the fight for fair wages, and segregation.”

Prominently located at the mill sites -- Meadow Mill, Whitehall Mill, and Mill Centre among others – the signs bring the mill history alive and connect directly to the thousands of residents and visitors who travel to the mill valley buildings to work, play, and live. Attractive historic photography and illustrations capture interest, and online resources encourage additional learning about Baltimore’s early industrial heritage. Nathan Dennies of the Greater Hampden Heritage Alliance served as the lead researcher for the project.

“The Baltimore National Heritage Area is delighted that we could help bring this creative, informative project to life,” said BNHA Interim Executive Director Shauntee Daniels. “The mill valley is a critical part of Baltimore’s history and is a tangible link to Baltimore’s geography, its connection to the Chesapeake Bay, and the importance of manufacturing to the city.”

Preservation Maryland worked with local preservation advocacy organization Baltimore Heritage, Inc. to bring the signage content online. Visit for more information about the historic resources in the Jones Falls valley.

Preservation Maryland's Nicholas Redding, Elly Cowan, Jana Carey, and Meagan Baco stand at one of the signs that interprets the history of the Jones Falls and the mills that powered Baltimore's early industrial heritage.