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Holiday Comfort in Lafayette Square
West Baltimore residents travelling in and around Lafayette Square found a surprising flash of cheer as the park’s recently renovated comfort station was decorated with a light display, a holiday reminder of the ongoing revitalization of the historic park and neighborhood. Originally constructed in 1948,the comfort station provided restroom facilities and other amenities to support community events at the park in the bustling African-American neighborhood.
Located in one the oldest African-American historic districts in the nation, Lafayette Square park was created in 1857 when the city of Baltimore passed an ordinance to establish a new park on part of an estate formerly owned by the late Dr. Thomas Edmondson. It served as the site for Camp Hoffman, a Union barracks and hospital during the Civil War. After the war, the park returned to recreational use as originally planned, and the surrounding neighborhood quickly became an attractive new neighborhood outside of Baltimore’s downtown. The area was referred to as “Church Square” by many area residents due to the four churches located there. By the 1930s, Lafayette Square had become one of the most fashionable and thriving African-American neighborhoods in Baltimore before suburban flight impacted the area.
In Fiscal Year 2018, the department awarded $90,000 from the Community Legacy program to Baltimore Heritage for the comfort station’s renovation and reopening. A visible symbol of the long term disinvestment in the area, Lafayette Square’s comfort station is now an updated and functional park resource for the community, one that will represent the rich history of Lafayette Square and bring joy to the neighborhood year round.