525 Commercial Street

By the Tides

Elmer L. Greensfelder (1892-1966), a Baltimore native, was a Johns Hopkins-trained chemist and inventor who became a playwright. Not a very successful playwright, though Broomsticks, Amen!, set in a Pennsylvania Dutch village, had a 41-performance run at the Little Theatre on Broadway in 1934. A year earlier, the Baltimore Civic Opera Company performed his one-act opera, Swing Low, in which a mob drags a black man off to a lynching. W. E. B. DuBois had earlier passed on the chance to perform it, saying, “The theme is a little too terrible.” Greensfelder bought this summer cottage in 1941, when it was denominated 527 Commercial. His wife, Mildred (Wood) Greensfelder, active in civic affairs, is memorialized by a playground at 211½ Bradford Street. The house has been expanded since the Greenfelders’ days, as the Historic District Survey notes.

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