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Black History Month: Wilson Park

Plaque commemorating Harry O Wilson in front of his home.

This Black History Month, Rebuilding Together Baltimore honors the African American neighborhoods we serve every day in Baltimore. We have a long history working in historically African American neighborhoods, and each of them has their own unique origin story.

One of the historically Black neighborhoods where our work has had a lasting impact is Wilson Park in Northeast Baltimore City. We take great pride in being one of many stewards in preservation of this historic African American community. It is notable for being one of the few neighborhoods established by and built for middle class African Americans in early 20th century segregated Baltimore.

The neighborhood was started by Harry Wilson, an African American bank owner, in 1917. Before starting Wilson Bank, he worked his way up from being a shoe salesman to opening an insurance company called “Mutual Benefit Society”.

Wilson purchased the land that would become Wilson Park from German Americans to build over 100 homes, and provide 200 lots. The neighborhood's boundaries are Cold Spring Lane to the north, 43rd street to the South, The Alameda to the East, and York Road to the west. Home styles were more suburban compared to inner city neighborhoods available to African American Baltimoreans at the time. They varied from detached single family, to rowhomes, and semi detached townhomes.

Famous African American residents of Wilson Park included musician Cab Calloway, lawyer William Ashbie Hawkins, and literary critic and academic Nick Aaron Ford. The neighborhood was also home to middle class professionals like teachers, creating a mixed income community. By the turn of the century, the neighborhood had changed dramatically as homeowners passed away, or moved out and children grew up.

Mr. Wilson’s legacy lives on through his former home at 4423 Craddock Avenue, where the community, with the help of then Councilman Bill Henry (now City Comptroller) was able to have his home designated as a historic landmark in 2017 and a commemorative plaque was installed to inform people of Wilson’s contributions to Baltimore.

Also in 2017, Rebuilding Together Baltimore hosted its “Building A Healthy Neighborhood” project to beautify and improve Willow Avenue Park plus ten homes in the Wilson Park neighborhood. As of 2022, we have helped to improve over 250 homes in Wilson Park and the surrounding neighborhoods to further support generational wealth building, helping elderly residents and multigenerational families live in their homes safely. Rebuilding Together Baltimore is helping to continue Mr. Wilson’s legacy of affordable housing and vibrant communities for African Americans in North Baltimore.


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