A Place Called Poppleton is an ongoing cultural documentation project focused on the rich history, folklife, and culture of the Poppleton neighborhood of West Baltimore. Beginning in 2020, UMBC professors and students have worked collaboratively with the Poppleton Now Community Association, residents, faith communities, community organizations, artists, and youth organizations to document, understand, and preserve the rich traditions and history of West Baltimore neighborhoods.
Fall 2023: A Place Called Poppleton “Community in America”
In Fall 2023 we produced special edition of the A Place Called Poppleton zine (designed by Baltimore-born and Los Angeles-based artist Markele Cullins). We are sharing a walking tour brochure (designed by Baltimore artist Alexis Tyson) and an ArcGIS virtual walking tour designed by Tristan Diaz with research from American Studies students from spring 2021 to fall 2023. We debuted short films produced by Prof. Bill Shewbridge’s Media & Communication Studies students in 2023 at our final event at Allen A.M.E. Church in Poppleton on Tuesday, December 19, 2023.
In February 2020, the Eaddy family received a condemnation notice for their home, which had been in the family since 1992. In summer 2020, the Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition project began documenting Poppleton’s long history of failed redevelopment and preserving the sense of place and community created by the Eaddy family and other residents, churches, and local businesses.
In 2021 and 2022, the work of cultural documentation—place-based research and oral history interviews—shifted from documenting the ongoing displacement of residents in Poppleton to organizing for change. Baltimore City has been taking Black people’s homes using eminent domain–the power of the state to take private property for public use–since 2004 for a misguided redevelopment project linked to the move of the University of Maryland BioPark into Poppleton and West Baltimore.
We organized to Save Our Block and to fight for equitable development in Baltimore. On July 18, 2022, Mayor Brandon Scott and Housing Commissioner Alice Kennedy announced that the Eaddy family would keep their home and the Sarah Ann Street alley houses would be redeveloped for homeownership by Shelley Halstead of Black Women Build. This win was a new beginning (not an end) in the fight for equitable and community-led development in Poppleton and Baltimore.
With this zine, we present stories of residents and some of the community assets in Poppleton: 1) Sarah Ann Street Local Historic District 2) St. Luke’s Youth Center 3) the Southwest Sports and Fitness Alliance and the Poppleton Rec Center 4) Excel Academy and 5) Allen A.M.E. Church.
Poppleton Walking Tour & Brochure:
Final Brochure – Poppleton (click to download)
Watch the oral history interviews for A Place Called Poppleton (fall 2023):
We thank Sonia Eaddy and the Poppleton Now Community Association members for inviting us into their neighborhood. And thanks to Allen A.M.E. Church and Pastor Brenda White (UMBC alumna) for hosting us for this community celebration. A special thanks to all the people we interviewed this semester: Diane Bell, TyJuan Hawkins, Francina and Sterling Walker, Pat Nickerson, Anthony Hudgins II (Executive Director, Southwest Sports and Fitness Alliance, Inc.) and the legacy members of Allen A.M.E. Church–Odell and Gay Jones, Betty Jean Singletary, Shirley Luallen, and Charlene McClain Boykin.
Spring 2023: “I am your neighbor” Profiles of Poppleton
Project Overview: “I am Your Neighbor”: Profiles of Poppleton is an oral history project collecting interviews with elders, culture bearers, artists, and those involved in foodways, faith communities, and other cultural traditions in the historic West Baltimore neighborhood of Poppleton. The project is designed to understand what it means to be a neighbor, to live in a neighborhood, and how residents experience changes in their neighborhood over time. Students presented short films based on our interviews and debuted a community newspaper with the neighborhood’s history, neighborhood profiles, and neighbors visions for the future on Saturday, May 20. This project is a collaboration between UMBC courses in American Studies and Media & Communications + community partners.
Download Community Newspaper here:
Designed by Markele Cullins https://www.markelecullins.com/
AMST 422: Prof. Nicole King w/students Tristan Diaz, Karla Press-Porter, Lexi Tyson, Jacob Mooney, Josh Masser, Evelyn Yuen, and Adrianna Ebron (graduate assistant)
MCS 395: Prof. Bill Shewbridge w/students Tirrell Bethel, Julianna Dove, Spencer Gaynor, Gwen Pacis, Marlon Brown, Logan Hellebuyck, Trey Fleece, Kyle Hoff, Cam Stockenberg, and Rory Sullivan
Student produced films:
We also worked on a Poppleton Walking Tour in ArchGIS: Click HERE.
We thank all the Poppleton residents who welcomed us into their neighborhood, especially those we interviewed–Sonia Eaddy, Damon Barnes, Dotie Page, Trinity McFadden, Marina Protopapas, and Ivan Leshinsky and the Poppleton Now Community Association. Also, we thank Dean Krimmel of Creative Museum Services, Adam Droneburg, Baynard Woods, and Charles Cohen of Eyesore Productions.
We appreciate support from the Department of American Studies, Public Humanities @ UMBC, and the Maryland State Arts Council Maryland Folklife Network.
Eaddy Family Wins the Battle for Their Home: “This victory is for us–all of us,” says Sonia Eaddy.
For more information see Press, Media & Publications.
During Spring 2022, students in AMST 380/680: Community in America continued work on the A Place Called Poppleton project. Students updated the Save Our Block zine and brochure on the campaign to reopen the Poppleton Rec Center.
Students worked with Poppleton residents to document, analyze, preserve, and raise awareness about the stories of the Poppleton neighborhood and the movements to preserve a historic block and reopen an important recreation center.
AMST 380/680 Spring 2022 students Clarence Snuggs, Jessica Burstrem, Thomas Tchaou, Jacob Daley, Rami Tadros, Karen Hayes-Karn, Michael Ayi, Jordan Ehart, Jordan Johnson, Kaleb Levery, Ceci McElroy, Malcolm Ostrander, Alexander Viado, Jessica Wood, Larissa Kuonen
During the Fall 2021 semester, students in AMST 380: Community in America continued to work on the A Place Called Poppleton II project. Students created a digital timeline on Poppleton and worked on the Save Our Block zine. We continued to document, analyze, and preserve the stories of the block where the Sarah Ann Street alley houses and Eaddy rowhomes are located. Students in MCS MLL 495/695 Video Ethnography produced short films from interviews in the field on how local stakeholders feel about the neighborhood’s changes related to redevelopment.
Voices of Poppleton
We want to thank the people who took time to talk with us from Poppleton…
Angela Banks – Paulette Carroll – Sonia and Curtis Eaddy – Curtis Eaddy II – Shae McCoy – Mildred Newman – Patricia Nickelson – Francina Walker
AMST 380 Students: Emily Chetelat – Eduardo Orellana – Karla Press-Porter – Sophia Shaikh- Brian Tregoning – Maria Morte Costea (grad student collaborator)
MCS MLL 495 Matthieu Carral-Viens, Deysi Chitic-Amaya, Prince Coulibaly, Jacob Daley,Ian Diaz, Calvin Thomas Frias, Alexandra Hulett, Emma Jarvis, J’mar Smith
The zine designed by Markele Cullins
Knight Lab timeline designed by Karla Press-Porter
In spring 2021 A Place Called Poppleton debuted to document the history and culture of the Poppleton neighborhood of Southwest Baltimore. UMBC students produced a StoryMap digital walking tour of the neighborhood with a focus on the area’s Black history and places lost or endangered due to redevelopment. We seek to document and share engaging stories of the past and present through archival research and listening to those who live, work, and are connected to Poppleton.
The project is a collaboration between Nicole King’s Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore course and Bill Shewbridge’s MCS Media Production fellows. King’s American Studies students researched the history of Poppleton and Shewbridge’s students produced short films from interviews in the field on the history of Poppleton and how local stakeholders feel about the neighborhood’s changes related to redevelopment.
Voices of Poppleton
AMST 422 Students:
Kwame Amoh, Forrest Caskey, Mitch Casper, Emily Chetelat, Bob Cross, Brandon Delivuk, Lauren Garry-Schoonover, Claire Gautrois, Phillip-Mathew Golden, Kayla Miller, Cameron Rybacki, and Alex Tomlinson
MCS Production Fellows:
Deysi Chitic-Amaya, Leah Iannuzzi, Ashlee Kreiger, Sam Murrill, Justin Okpara, Eva Tsitohay