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Michael Makarovich oral history collection documenting gay history in Baltimore

Identifier: MS-0856
This collection consists of oral history interviews and printed materials collected primarily in the 1990s by Michael Makarovich, who researched the evolution of gay bars in Baltimore, Maryland.


  • 1982-2018


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.


1 Gigabytes (Approximately 1 GB, 6 files.)

0.24 Cubic Feet (1 legal half-sized container)

Biographical / Historical

Michael Makarovich is a resident of Baltimore, Maryland. Upon retiring from his twenty-one year teaching career at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, Maryland, Makarovich opened a store called Gustafson's on The Avenue (36th Street) in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore in 1995. The store sells unique and vintage merchandise, and its name was later changed to Hampden Junque. In the 1990s, Makarovich conducted interviews with gay senior citizens in Baltimore, which he'd planned to use to write an article or book about the early gay history of Baltimore bars.

Biographical / Historical

There are a few gay bars and clubs that are regularly mentioned by participants in these oral history interviews. One is Leon's on Park Avenue in Mount Vernon, which is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in Baltimore. The bar's current name comes from Leon Lampe, who owned the bar during the 1930s. The bar has operated as a gay bar since 1957 and utilized a password at the door. It is still open at the time of this writing.

Another frequenly mentioned venue is the Pepper Hill Club, which was located at 200 North Gay Street in Baltimore and co-owned by Victor Lance and Morton Cohen. This club is the subject of an infamous police raid which occurred there in October of 1955, wherein the Baltimore City Police Vice Squad shuttled over one hundred arrested people to the nearby police station. A law was passed the next year banning such raids.

Sources: "Leon's Bar in Baltimore Celebrates 60 Years." Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. April 26, 2017. Accessed May 23, 2019.

Rector, Kevin. "Welcome to Gay Matters." December 10, 2018. Accessed May 23, 2019.

Content Description

This collection includes oral histories conducted by Johns Hopkins University alum Michael Makarovich with members of Baltimore’s gay community about the evolution of Baltimore gay bars. Participants interviewed are Bob Eckert, Reg Diffenderfer, Duane Schline, Thayne Williams, David Lehman, and members of the band the Rock-a-Jets. The interviews primarily discuss gay culture and community in Baltimore City between the 1940s and 1970s. The collection also includes black and white photographs, newspaper clippings, and printed ephemera collected during Makarovich's research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Archives by Michael Marakovich in March 2019.

Existence and Location of Copies

These oral histories have been digitized and digital copies of the recordings exist offline. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Processing Information

Processed by Kristen Diehl in May 2019.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA