In 1997, a group of concerned citizens formed the Railroad Historical District Corp, a 501 (c) 3 organization. The organization was formed to save a group of alley houses slated for demolition. While the City saw condemned buildings as a nuisance, the group recognized them as monuments to the Irish families who worked for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Located across from the B&O Railroad Museum, this row of 1840 residences housed poor Irish Immigrants who worked in the “yards” of what is considered to be the nation’s first great railroad.
After a court battle led by pro bono attorney, Barry Steel, the group successfully kept the City from tearing down the buildings. Neighbors volunteered labor and donated materials to stabilize the buildings. Funding from the Maryland Historic Trust, Preservation Maryland, Irish Organizations, and private donors made the buildings’ restoration possible. Three have been restored and sold for private ownership while the others became the Irish Railroad Workers Museum. The buildings have been officially declared a Baltimore City Historic District and are on the National Register of Historic Places.