For example, a tour conducted during Women's History Month can include stops at Fort McHenry with an emphasis on Mary Pickersgill, the seamstress who sewed the flag that became the Star Spangled Banner, as well as Grace Wisher, a young African-American apprentice who assisted Pickersgill. There are also tours that play up Baltimore's role in the civil rights movement and in jazz and gospel music.

"There's really no such thing as black history," said Saunders. "What we're talking about is Baltimore history. It didn't take place in a vacuum."

Pricing for a Renaissance tour is dependent upon on how much a group wants to see, as well as the admission charge of the respective venues on the tour. Saunders said the company charges a flat $300 fee for a guide to step onto a bus and narrate a tour, as well for the "shoebox lunch."

Though the tour emphasizes local history, Saunders said the overwhelming share of Renaissance customers come from out of town, with groups from New York and Philadelphia making up a large percentage of the tours.

Only about 10 percent of tours are taken by Baltimore-area residents, Saunders said.

"That was Thelma Cox's focus," said Saunders. "Her vision was to expose Baltimoreans to their rich history, but there just doesn't seem to be a great demand locally."

Even if Baltimoreans don't flock to see their own history come alive, Saunders vows to make the tours as authentic as possible with one exception.

Those "shoebox" lunches, Saunders said, will remain faithful to the era, minus one item: the hard-boiled egg.

"I refuse to put that in there," said Saunders with a laugh. "People say, 'You've got everything in there but the boiled egg.' I say, 'You're not eating boiled eggs on this bus.'"

 

If you go

Renaissance Productions & Tours can be reached at 410-728-3837.