Departures: Patsy Andrews leaves town, Michael Britt and Frank Shiver are remembered

People come and they leave, but memories stick around.  A few days ago, Patsy Andrews, after two decades in the neighborhood, quietly relocated to Frederick, to be nearer family. Michael Britt, the music and choir director at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, died a young death last month. Frank Shivers’ family and many neighbors gathered in Scott Fitzgerald Park, which he helped establish, to memorialize him.

Patsy Andrews

Patsy is what everyone wants in a neighbor. She is open, interested and friendly with everyone she meets. She has been willing to do almost anything to support those of us on her block: house sitting, babysitting, cat sitting, 200-pound dog walking–always asking and truly caring about our lives. She has taken care of many neighbors as they grew older and needed to move on to other places. 

She quietly handled the annual Bolton Hill yard sale and springtime parking permit process as easily and efficiently as possible, jobs which took much more time than anyone imagines. Oftentimes, she delivered parking permits to neighbors’ homes to save them a trip downtown. She loves decorating her house for Halloween, sitting outside reveling in the costumes and giving away the best candy. And Christmas is always an adventure: many a neighbor can remember getting the call that she needed help getting the biggest Christmas tree she could possibly find into her house year after year. 

Patsy often brought neighbors together by hosting dinner parties, and she has been a fixture on daily dog walks. Patsy, we are excited for your new adventures west of here. Know how much you have been appreciated and how much you will be missed in Bolton Hill. 

– Barbara and Lat Naylor

Michael Britt

Michael Britt was one of the first people I met when I moved to Baltimore in 1984. We struck up a friendship over our common interests, pipe organs. Michael knew just about everybody in town who played one and what organ was in which church. 

His ability to make music spontaneously or through great rehearsals was amazing. And what a sense of humor! He could make people like music no matter what the piece. He used to play a series of organ concerts each spring and fall based on fun and silly music. What a blast to be in the audience in a proper church and all of a sudden, the audience would start laughing because of his antics at the keyboards. 

He had quite a talent and could lead choirs and other instrumentalists through some of the great works of sacred church music. No matter the organ, he could find the best way to express the sentiment of the music so that any listener became a part of the presentation. After many years at Catholic churches, he took a position at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Bolton Hill using the great Skinner organ, maximizing the expressiveness of such an organ. Michael would also play at Corpus Christi Church on the beautiful 130-year-old Odell organ. It was a challenge to play due to its tenuous condition, but with his generous help and excitement for the instrument, we were always able to make it work and he would create some real art. His performances there during Artscape were memorable. 

His husband George Bareford, a gifted baritone, often performed with Michael accompanying. Michael’s excitement for the instruments and generous volunteering to help others will be long remembered and sorely missed.

– David Storey

Frank Shivers

On Scott Fitzgerald’s 126th birthday last month, admirers of the late Frank Shivers came to honor him in the park he helped create to honor the writer. Family members, Baltimore Heritage’s Johns Hopkins and others spoke. Here are excerpts from remarks by Shivers’s longtime neighbor Bob Pellaton.

I met Frank Shivers shortly after we moved from DC to Bolton Street, 33 years ago. Frank must have been surprised to learn that we knew little about Bolton Hill, or Baltimore, for that matter. “Well,” Frank said by way of orientation, “You have just moved 45 miles north into the South!” To prove his point, he challenged us to go up Howard Street on a particular day in January to a double equestrian statue in Wyman Park. There, he assured us, we would find gathered around it the sons, daughters and grandchildren of the Confederacy, in full period regalia. We thought he was pulling our leg. But we went. And there they were! (The statue recently was removed.)

That was just the first of many things that Frank Shivers would teach us about the history of this city, and then about our neighborhood. I discovered that in 1978 Frank had published a book, Bolton Hill: Baltimore Classic. Thereafter, whenever I met Frank on the street, I would ask him questions about Bolton Hill’s history or its other attractions. He was passionate about both, having lived here for 40 years prior to our arrival.

Bolton Hill always had a pedigree, he explained, having been developed from three large estates after the Civil War. That gave it an aura which lasted until two world wars disrupted the social and economic order. Large rowhouses were then broken into apartments. Properties deteriorated. Urban renewal threatened demolition and highways. Then Frank described the renaissance, never mentioning his own considerable role in it.

The result (of Frank’s work, bringing people together, encouraging restoration, turning concrete into gardens) is the neighborhood we have today: restored architecture and beautiful gardens; institutions and traditions, some new, some old; and an influx of people who are diverse, creative, energetic and aware of our colorful history.