Robert L. Eney
by Jacqueline Greff
Robert L. "Bob" Eney, an iconic Fell's Point preservationist who played an important role in preserving the neighborhood died on Sunday, October 30, 2016 of complications from dementia. He was 87.
Bob was a Baltimore-born architectural historian who moved to Fell's Point after working in New York. His surveys of Fell's Point's buildings helped get the community on the National Register of Historic Places, which was pivotal in preventing demolition for a series of freeways in the 1970's. The Rehabilitation Sourcebook and other documents he authored laid the groundwork for much of the preservation done since then, and he personally helped restore the Robert Long House, Baltimore's oldest residential building.
An excellent Baltimore Sun Obituary by Jacques Kelly begins:
"Bob was truly one of a kind," said U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. "Smart, energetic, talented; he had it all and was just such a great guy. ...The history in Fells Point was his passion, and the people of Fells Point were his pals.
"He loved being down by the waterfront. We can see his mark on so many things, from the Admiral Fell Inn to helping Bertha find her mussels," the senator said. "He helped me find my own home on Ann Street, a home that meant so much to me, and helped me furnish it with unique items, like chairs from the ladies' shoe department at Hutzler's."
The obituary goes on to explain Eney was born in Baltimore and raised in Dundalk, the son of Milton L. Eney, a Bethlehem Steel Inspector and Sparrows Point Business owner, and Viola Hare. He graduated from Sparrows Point High School, took Saturday courses at the Baltimore Museum of Art, served in the Army during the Korean War, and worked in New York as a visual display artist for the Lord & Taylor department store on Fifth Avenue early in his career. There he met his partner, John C. Gleason, and the two came back to Baltimore in 1964. They joined the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill, Montgomery Street and Fells Point (the Preservation Society) in 1967 as the neighborhood was being condemned for a federal highway. They bought and renovated a pair of Fell Street houses and helped spearhead the fight against the highway. Eney also led the restoration of the Robert Long House.
News of Eney's passing generated a number of comments on Nextdoor Historic Fell's Point:
- "Bob was an original. He was darn near single-handedly responsible for documenting our architectural heritage. His own house on Thames was one of the first to combine two structures, so all the rest of us owe him praise for his creativity and pioneering spirit." Cliff Ransom
- "Bob was an iconic Fell's Pointer and played an important role in preserving this neighborhood. He will be greatly missed. It's also sad to be losing someone with the knowledge that he had about our history." Joanne Masopust
- "What an astounding thing that one persons knowledge, interest and energy could have such an impact on all of us who today call Fell's Point home ... One passionate soul really can make a difference !!" Kathleen Haller
- "Thanks to all who are thinking about Bob. Bob slipped away in his sleep on October 30th. No Sickness, no fever, no pneumonia just a gentle exit." Tony Norris
Eney was frequently quoted on Fell's Point history topics in publications as diverse as The New York Times, The Southeast Council Against the Road, and my book Images of America: Fell's Point. In preparation for my documentary, "Fell's Point Out of Time" and subsequent book, we interviewed Eney:
Eney also did a series of video explanations of architecture in various parts of Fell's Point, which appear on the documentary DVD.