Have you ever gone out to run an errand, only to find yourself somehow discovering or re-discovering a really neat part of your town? That's exactly what happened yesterday afternoon. Jeromy and I had to make a trip to the Lamp Catholic Book store on Hudson Street, which is in the Canton neighborhood of good ol' downtown Charm City. To our disappointment, though, the store was closed. Frustrated at having driven all the way downtown, which I had never been very fond of doing, only to be met with a locked door, I was at a loss of what to do. So, we got back in the car and backtracked our way towards home. I got back on to O'Donnell Street, which inevitably led me down O'Donnell Square, and that's when I realized that I had never, in my almost nine years of being a Charm City resident, taken the time to explore this part of town. So after a small series of twists and turns on a few one-way streets, I found a parking spot right next to Coburn's Tavern & Grill. From here Jeromy and I began our impromptu tour of this well-known Charm City hub. What caught our eyes first was the square sitting in the middle of everything. With brick paths, grassy areas, park benches, and a statue of Capt. John O'Donnell, who founded the area back in the 18th century, it drew us in as if we were American tourists in a Roman piazza for the first time. Jeromy thought the various metal accouterments lining the fencing around Capt. O'Donnell's statue were quite fascinating. I explained that they were indicative of Baltimore's legacy of industry, of a time when the city was a major hub of factories, canneries and major urban progress in the 18th and 19th centuries. Not really sure where else we should go, we decided to head for the Firehouse Cafe on Linwood Avenue. What a great little find this place was!
Sitting right outside the cafe were Jake and Ellwood, the renowned Blues Brothers (renowned for what, I'm not entirely sure yet), along with several tables and chairs. The interior of the cafe was what I would describe as vintage Firehouse meets old world Bohemian meets urban chic.
The entire menu is hand painted/written on the wall, and along the other walls are murals, paintings and photographs depicting scenes from the 1904 Great Baltimore Fire. And what firehouse would be complete without an actual firehouse pole and its very own firefighter sliding down it? They had a pretty tasty looking menu,and for this debut visit we decided on each getting a scoop of Moxley's 'Death by Chocolate' ice cream, a perfect for choice two chocoholics looking to stay cool on a hot sunny day. With the cafe's offerings of delicious food, comfy couches and formal sitting chairs, free Wi-Fi internet access, and the company of two famous Blues Brothers, we will definitely be going back! We sat on one of the park benches in the Square, and we had to eat fast since it was a good 85 degrees, and our treats were melting fast! Afterwards we headed west past the Firehouse to see what else we could find. We came across St. Casimir's Catholic Church, which is one of the oldest in the city. Then we went back around and headed down the other side of the square. We passed several stores, a salon, and numerous bars and taverns and grills. Jeromy loved the colorful murals painted on the sides of several buildings. We stopped into a store called 2910 On The Square, a lovely little store boasting a selection of unique gifts, home decorations, curios, purses, and an assortment of children's clothing and accessories. There we met the owner, Stephanie, and her two lovely assistants, Sadie and Winston, who greeted us with wagging tails and affectionate barks. The store is in what I can only imagine was a three story town-home at one time, and in the upstairs gallery some items are displayed in what probably is the original kitchen cabinetry and shelving, painted and decorated to match the whimsical feel of the whole place. By far, the downstairs 'bathroom' turned bath boutique, where bath products are displayed on shelves on the bathtub wall, was my favorite nook in the whole place. How could that not make you smile! We walked a little further down O'Donnell, then back into the square where Jeromy did a little more exploring of the statue and plaques. And since I still hadn't been able to get what I initially left home for, we reluctantly ended our tour of O'Donnell Square. But not to fear, we definitely have plans to go back and see more of this quaint part of our fair city. We will of course be visiting our new friends the Blues Brothers, Sadie, and Winston. Next time we'll make sure to make our way back during lunch time and sample some of the culinary delights that one of the many restaurants has to offer. Yesterday was definitely a reminder that you just never know what you'll discover when you step foot outside your door!