Douglass returned to Baltimore in 1864, a free man, and participated in the celebration of Maryland’s Law abolishing slavery in Baltimore at Strawberry Alley Church, which once stood on this site and where he had worshipped.
On another trip to Baltimore in 1891 he saw the Church abandoned and derelict. He wanted to provide affordable housing for African Americans and he had the means to do it, so he bought the Church and razed it. He then built five Italianate-influenced row houses on its foundation.
Douglass wrote that “going to live at Baltimore laid the foundation, and opened the gateway, to all my subsequent prosperity.” He credited his experiences in Fell’s Point, where he learned to read and write, witnessed the horrors of the domestic slave trade, and experienced a small but irresistible taste of freedom as a hired-out ship caulker, as formative events in his life.