Sunday, July 10, 2011

Belfort Meteorological Observatory

and the Baltimore Rescue Mission

Along East Baltimore Street, at the corner with Central Avenue, in the Jonestown neighborhood of Baltimore, we find this intriguing building. It identifies itself as Belfort.

An inscription in the sidewalk explains further.

Julien P. Friez,
A.D. 1896.
Julien Pierre Friez, a scientific instrument maker, came to the U.S. from Alsace in the 1870's and settled in Philadelphia. 

 In 1876 Freiz set up shop in Baltimore at the Corner of German and Grant Streets. George Phipps, in his 1929 Phi Mu thesis says that,  "The Friez Co. was completely wiped out in the devastating fire of 1904, which swept that whole section of Baltimore.  J. P. Friez then bought the old McKim Place on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Baltimore Street. This old house, dating back for at least 150 years, is still an integral part of the Friez Co's plant." Phipps gives us this photo of the Belfort Observatory:

The J. P. Friez company produced instruments like this one, a meteorological data recorder.

The part of the complex we see above was the Friez home on East Baltimore Street. The factory faced Central Avenue. This picture from Phipps's thesis shows the layout.

The Belfort Meteorological Observatory
of Julien P. Friez and Sons
Northwest Corner of Baltimore Street & Central Avenue, Baltimore Maryland, U. S. A.

Friez named his factory Belfort in honor of the French victory at the siege of Belfort (1870-71) in the Franco-Prussian war. The whole complex now houses the Baltimore Rescue Mission.

The old factory building houses the Rescue Mission offices.

The Lion of Belfort adopted by Friez as his company symbol is a huge red stone lion in Belfort France erected by Frédéric Bartholdi -- sculptor of the Statue of Liberty -- to commemorate the French victory. Here is a photo by Nicholas Sanchez.

The lion appears over the door of the old factory building.

The Baltimore Rescue Mission houses 130-140 homeless men daily and provides free medical care in conjunction with nearby John's Hopkins Hospital. The sign above the door of the Alcohol Dry-Out Shelter displays the catechistic tenor of this Christian missionary organization.

While I was photographing the sign, a House Sparrow flew by.

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