, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“I’ve lived here my whole life, I love this neighborhood,” Alvaro Roman, co-owner of Ted’s Musicians Shop, was sitting behind his desk with a black beanie and a heavy jacket. It was the coldest day in February and Mt. Vernon was covered in snow and ice.

Until recently, I had never been to Mt. Vernon. I have driven through the neighborhood but never stopped to eat or check out any shops or museums.

Besides me, there were only two other music lovers in the shop, who were visiting from Chicago.

Like me, they came into the shop because it is one of a kind. “I think there’s no other store like ours in Baltimore,” Alvaro said. “The original founder, Ted Martina, based this shop off one in New York City. I think he chose to open in Mt. Vernon because it reminded him of the most of New York.”

Alvaro and his brother, Fernando Roman, own the shop together these days. “Mt. Vernon has always gone through changes but recently I believe the neighborhood is changing for the better [sic]”.

Alvaro also said the construction doesn’t affect his business or the any other surrounding shops’ business. He believes the best time to visit Mt. Vernon is in the spring and summer months because everyone is out, walking around, and there are many different types of festivals and events going on.

My favorite stop of the day was the Walters Art Museum. I only found a parking spot two blocks away from the Museum and had to walk past the icy Washington Monument around several big orange traffic cones. Traffic around Mt. Vernon was light for a Friday afternoon; no one was walking anywhere.

IMG_5340I went up the grandiose stairs from the museum’s North Charles Street entrance. This huge room reminded me of an ancient monastery I visited once, with a big court yard-like space in the middle and four overly tall doors, two on each side of the room. Opposite of me was another grandiose staircase.

It was unlike anything I’ve seen here in Baltimore. Growing up, I have watched Baltimore modernize and it was nice to be here in Mt. Vernon to see older style buildings, history and culture.

I saw someone moving to my right in a room labeled European Porcelains, so I started there.  IMG_5342

As I headed up the stairs to the second floor and I could not help but to stop and take pictures of it. Yes, I took pictures of huge marble stairs. As I reach the top and start into a room labeled Europe 18th century my jaw drops. The red-velvet baroque-like patterns on the walls, the intricate chandelier, and the paintings! One artwork that really stood out to me was a picture of Florence, Italy in the 18th century. It was a painting of a street, lined with the architectures of the time and people strolling along. Just a normal day in Florence back then. If you have not visited the Walters Art Museum, it is a must see! It is my new favorite place in Mt. Vernon.

IMG_5347As I continue to explore the second floor, I find a young couple all the way here from Brasilia, Brazil. “We’re here visiting family in Baltimore and seeing all the mainstream places we can,” Gabriel Orlando said. “We didn’t expect it to be this cold but the weather doesn’t slow us down,” Gabriel’s wife, Isabela said. They told me they arrived just last night and Mt. Vernon was the first place on their list.

After spending another hour in the museum I decided to leave and walk around the monument and the Peabody institute of John Hopkins University. The Peabody is a conservatory and preparatory school for the musical arts.

There were not many students wandering around the school since the wind was so strong and there was thick ice sliding out of every ally way.

Later that day I walked by the Baltimore Basilica on my way to the Maryland Historical Society. According to the cathedral’s website, it was the first ever cathedral built in America and was finished in 1821. It was like a castle you would see in Germany. I never knew such a sight was so close to the Inner Harbor.

When I finally trekked my way to the Historic Society I walked past its big, modern, open courtyard to the entrance. There were two fountains on each side of the double doors that were half frozen. The inside lobby and overall structure seemed just as modern as the courtyard, which is pretty funny considering it’s a historical society museum and library. I was expecting an old mansion-like building like the Mt. Vernon Engineers Club.

The Historical Society has an original copy of Francis Scott Key’s draft of the Star Spangled Banner, which is super cool and patriotic, especially if you’re from Baltimore.

I believe the modernism of the Historical society represents the entire neighborhood. Although Mt.Vernon is full of history, it is still a contemporary and popular neighborhood that adds a lot of culture to Baltimore.