The houses at 612 and 614 South Wolfe Street are two of the smallest and oldest wooden homes remaining in Fell’s Point. Ann Bond Fell Giles, widow of Edward Fell, inherited both properties following the death of her first husband. She remarried and had several more children. Upon her death, the properties ended up in the hands of her youngest daughter Susannah Giles Moore and her husband Phillip Moore. It stayed in their hands until Phillip died insolvent in 1833 or 1834.
The houses were built somewhere between February 1798 and 1801, though likely closer to the later date. 612 was connected to another property at 610 South Wolfe Street in its earliest days, and both were rented to Edward Callow in 1801. 614 South Wolfe Street was also rented out by the owners to Patrick Morrison.
Between 1842 and 1854, the buildings became homes to African American ship caulkers Richard Jones, Henry Scott, and John Whittington. The shipbuilding industry in Fell’s Point depended on free and enslaved black labor. Caulking, the process by which a ship is waterproofed and sealed, was dominated by black workers including Frederick Douglass who worked as a caulker in Baltimore in the 1830s.. For a time, the Black Caulker Association held a near monopoly over Baltimore's caulking industry.
The Black Caulker Association lost power in the mid-nineteenth century as European immigrants arrived competing for work. The houses on Wolfe Street were named the Caulker Houses in honor of the caulkers who lived there. The houses are also known as the “Two Sisters Houses” after sisters Mary Leeke Rowe Dashiell and Eleanor Marine Dashiell, descendants of the Leeke, Marine, and Dashiell families. They owned the houses prior to the acquisition by the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fell’s Point.
Watch our Five-Minute Histories video on these buildings!