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Baltimore’s historic preservation commission recommends Cab Calloway’s grandmother’s home be designated a city landmark

Baltimore’s Historic and Architectural Preservation Commission unanimously recommended that the home of jazz pioneer Cab Calloway’s maternal grandmother Annie Reed be designated a city landmark at Tuesday’s commission meeting.

The commission made the recommendation to council based on a June bill introduced by Councilman Leon Pinkett, which looks to designate Reed’s former house at 1316 N. Carey St. to be included on the city’s list of official landmarks. The bill now goes back to council for consideration.

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Historic Preservation Planner Lauren Schiszik said that while Calloway only spent two years at the home, Reed taught him and his siblings how to play music from a young age and continued to contribute to the area for decades. She said that three of Calloway’s five childhood homes are still standing.

“Although (Cab and Blanche Calloway) only lived here for two years, the influence and support of the family that lived in this house really made this a familial home base for them,” Schiszik said.

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One of those homes at 2216 Druid Hill Ave. has caused a great deal of controversy as it is currently slated for demolition, despite efforts by Calloway’s descendants to preserve it.

Calloway’s grandson, Ashburton resident Peter Brooks, has been working with preservationists to stop the demolition on the grounds that it would rob Baltimore of a valuable historical monument and potential resource for community development.

Marti Pitrelli, a Druid Hill Avenue resident and researcher who has aided Brooks, spoke at Tuesday’s meeting on behalf of the family and said “the Calloway family whole-heartedly supports” the designation.

However, she added that Calloway’s grandson, Peter Brooks, “made it abundantly clear” he wants the 2216 Druid Hill Avenue property also preserved.

Pinkett said he views the historic designation of 1316 N. Carey St. as “an opportunity to celebrate both” Reed and Cab Calloway.

He added that, as for the Druid Hill Avenue property, he said “their community’s input ... is paramount.”

“They made a determination how they wanted to redevelop that area,” Pinkett said.

Baltimore Sun reporter Sameer Rao contributed to this article.

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