BNHA Grant Project Spotlight: Malachi Mills House

Content about Grant Project Spotlight: Malachi Mills House

Photo Courtesy of Southwest Partnership.

In 2019, the heritage area awarded a $14,100 small capital grant to Southwest Partnership to support the restoration of Baltimore’s historic Malachi Mills House. Southwest Partnership acquired the Malachi Mills House located in the 1500 block of W. Baltimore Street. Erected in 1843, the house was built by a free African American carpenter and cabinet maker named Malachi Mills. The awarded grant will help fund renovations ranging from roof assessment and repair to window and door replacement.

Here is what Elizabeth Weber, Southwest Partnership’s program manager, had to say about the Malachi Mills House:

In your opinion, what makes the Malachi Mills House a unique Baltimore historic site?
The Malachi Mills House is a unique Baltimore historic site both for its architectural features and for its social history. It's one of the few—if not the last—wood frame houses in West Baltimore and one of the oldest buildings along W. Baltimore Street which historically has been a major commercial corridor. Architecturally, the survival of the Malachi Mills House represents continuity through change along the corridor—a fixed point in an evolving neighborhood. The Malachi Mills House offers insight into under-represented aspects of Baltimore's history—the lives of craftspeople of color and their families in the early nineteenth century—as well as an opportunity to explore the history of W. Baltimore Street and the surrounding neighborhoods.

What inspired Southwest Partnership to go through the process of acquiring this property?
Due to its history and the fact that it is the last wood frame building along W. Baltimore Street, the Southwest Partnership Historic Preservation Committee—which is made up of community members dedicated to preserving the architectural and cultural history of the area—decided that preserving the Malachi Mills House was one of their primary goals. The house had been vacant for years and was in very poor shape due to fire damage and dilapidation. We knew that acquiring the building was the best way to preserve and rehabilitate it into a positive, productive structure along W. Baltimore Street, allowing the community to determine the best use for it.

What role do you feel the Malachi Mills House will play in branding the area in which it is located as a heritage tourism destination?
The Southwest Partnership area is home to a number of great historic sites and small house museums. There is of course the B&O Railroad Museum but also the Mount Clare Museum House, the Irish Railroad Workers Museum, the Poe House, and the H.L. Mencken House. A restored Malachi Mills House will help develop the network of these important sites and will fill a gap in that area's story.

What is one thing you wish more people knew about the Malachi Mills House and/or Southwest Partnership?
That its there! The House is easily overlooked along W. Baltimore Street—while there's not a lot to the house currently, its near a lot of great local businesses, beautiful homes, and historic buildings.

The FY20 grant cycle for BNHA’s Small Capital Grants program is open! Spread the word and complete your applications before the submission deadline on October 21, 2019. Visit our grants page for more information on all our grant programs.