In southwest Baltimore, known to locals as "Sowebo," is Union Square, a neighborhood of historic houses, commerce buildings, art galleries and artist studios. Its landscape of walkways, a fountain and wrought iron lamps recalls a Victorian Era Baltimore. Most of Union Square is built on the former estate of Thorowgood Smith, Baltimore's second mayor who served from 1804-08. Neighborhood lore holds Smith's nephew suggested naming Union Square in 1846 to celebrate the victories of American forces during the Mexican-American War.
On the neighborhood's west side is Union Square Park, a 2 1/2-acre public space that showcases the community's signature Greek Revival structure, Union Square Pavilion. Architect John F. Hoss designed the iron Greek-style pavilion with fluted columns in 1850. It covers a natural spring that once was accessible by steps and, at one time, supplied water to the B&O Railroad.
In 2012, Union Square received a facelift with a new fountain, complete renovation of the pavilion and various other park improvements. Selected by the general contractor, Baltimore-based Allied Contractors Inc., Ruff Roofers Inc., Baltimore, performed the iconic pavilion's restoration.
A challenging start