Ghost Expedition Baltimore Maryland 2017/Lexington Market Underground
Founded in 1782, Baltimore’s Lexington Market is the oldest market in America, and among the oldest in the world. The market remains on the same site donated by Revolutionary War hero, John Eager Howard, who commanded the Maryland Line Regiment of the Continental Army.
Construction on the market began in 1803 with a covered shed on Green street for Howards’ Market. In 1818 the site was renamed the Lexington Market in honor of the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
Additional buildings were erected for market merchants in 1826 and 1856. By 1860, the market was drawing around 60,000 visitors a day, making it the largest market in the world. After visiting Lexington Market, famed essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed Baltimore the “Gastronomic capital of the world.”
After the Civil War and into the next century the market transformed into a social hub for city residents to engage in news and gossip, soapbox politics and street entertainment. Waves of immigration brought expanding varieties of foods and cultures into the marketplace, a defining character of Lexington Market today
As Baltimore entered the automobile era, traffic around the market was becoming an issue. “Lexington Market must go,” declared Baltimore’s mayor in 1912, “whether the tenants desire it or not!” Lexington Market remained, as did also political battles over the market’s future.
The Lexington Market Authority was formed in 1946 to manage the affairs of the marketplace. The authority was formed following political protests led by market vendors over the forced closure of street stalls that year.
On Friday morning, March 25 1949, a fire destroyed Lexington Market resulting in $5M in damages and lost goods that were stocked for the shopping weekend. Lexington Market was rebuilt in 1952 and this is the structure that stands today.
As the ground was excavated for the new market in 1951, construction workers uncovered a large L-shaped underground chamber that was three stories high. The chamber connected to a 100 ft tunnel that led to six smaller vaults.
The vaults reportedly belonged to the former Schaefer meat company and were used for curing pork. The vaults were reportedly raided during Prohibition for illegal whisky production and again in the 1930’s for harboring suspected Communist activities.
The Lexington Market Underground is now accessible through an abandoned, and reportedly once-thriving underground nightclub formerly known as Tubbs and as the Sugar Shack. The restaurant was abandoned in 2003 “with the tables cleared off, the lights shut down and the plates on the floor.”
In 2016, the Lexington Market Underground was opened for historical tours.
Haunting legends have not been established there. Limited press reporting has mainly conveyed personal impressions and atmospherics. While haunted experiences are possible, contextual clues from the abandoned setting could be creating perceptions of paranormal activity.
The ghost expedition will make attempts at trans communication experiences using mediumistic and technical means.
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Kelly, J. (2009, Jan 18). In City’s Overlooked Underground, 29th Street Tunnel Gets New Task. Baltimore Sun.
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Albertype Co. (1900). People near tables where fruit and flowers are being sold at the Lexington market in Baltimore, Maryland. 1850-1900. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
Lexington Market, Baltimore, MD. (1909, Feb 28). Postcard Published by I. & M. Ottenheimer. Prints and Photographs Division. Library of Congress.
Detroit Publishing Co. (1903). Lexington Market, Baltimore, Maryland. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
Lexington Market. Shows outdoor vendors and patrons. Signs in background: Dimling’s Groceteria and Great China Tea Company. (c 1920-1930). Gelatin silver print. Julius Anderson Photograph Collection, Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, Special Collections Department, Maryland Historical Society.
Lexington Market, Baltimore, Maryland. (1921). Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, Maryland Historical Society.
Interior view of Lexington Market, 400 West Lexington Street, Baltimore. (1966). Unidentified photographer. Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, Maryland Historical Society.
Swasman, P. (1976). Lexington Market. Neg #16. In Lexington Market MHT B-2275 (1976). Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Maryland Historical Trust.
Lexington Market. (1953). Sanborn Baltimore 1914-1953 Vol 1A, 1914, Sheet 20A. In Lexington Market MHT B-2275 (1976). Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Maryland Historical Trust.
Archival photo of the vault beneath Lexington Market, believed to have been used to bootleg whiskey during Prohibition. (1951, Jan 4). ©
Baltimore Sun. Reprinted with permission from The Baltimore Sun. All rights reserved.