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Hidden Gem of a Hardware Store – Schneider’s – Baltimore MD Since 1896! A Roland Park neighborhood staple

Posted on: January 3, 2017



Ever notice how Google maps sends you down roads you may not normally go down, in order to save a whole minute off your drive time? (And ever notice how when you start a sentence with a question starting with the word Ever…you end up sounding like Andy Rooney in your head? Maybe it’s just me…!)

Well, this time we have to thank the online mapper – because it sent us through Roland Park Baltimore, where we discovered Schneider’s Paint and Hardware store, open since 1896-!
Schneider's Paint Hardware Roland Park Baltimore MD Maryland Retro Roadmap

As we approached the shop located in the lower level of one of Roland Park’s large 1890s-era houses, we noticed a gentleman fixing a window screen just outside the door. This turned out to be friendly and informative Jeff Pratt – owner of Schneider’s Hardware (his mother was a Schneider).

As soon as I started admiring the art deco Schneider’s name in the window glass under the metal awning (look closely at the photo above and you’ll see it) he invited us into the shop to admire the art deco lighting fixtures that have been illuminating the teeny tiny shop for decades. And admire we did!

Schneider's Hardware Wyndhurst Baltimore Maryland Retro Roadmap

We also admired the amount of useful items available in such a small shop – light bulbs, twine, potting soil, nails and screws, sash chain and rag mops, seasonal items and hard to find ones the big and boring box stores don’t carry.

The shop originally started as a grocery store and butcher, but transformed into a hardware store in the 1940’s. Jeff started working with his father at the shop in the early 1970s, and took over the business in 1989.

Schneider's Hardware Wyndhurst Baltimore Maryland Retro Roadmap

Pratt’s father ran the shop for almost 50 years and was quite the local figure. Folks would send him postcards on their journeys, which are hung with the photos facing the counter, so he could see them there. He would also hang a board with his yearly predictions of what he thought would happen in the future. While he sadly passed away in 2000, his final predictions still hang in the shop.

Schneider's Hardware Wyndhurst Baltimore Maryland Retro Roadmap

As we were there a steady stream of local folks came into the shop, looking for something specific, chatting about bee-keeping with Jeff ( a hobby of his) and updating him on local goings-on.

One item I just had to ask about as it was featured so prominently in the shop signage, is the Radiator Key, or Radiator Bleed Key.

Schneider's Hardware Wyndhurst Baltimore Maryland Retro Roadmap

Jeff explained to me that many of the houses in the area were built over 100 years ago and still use radiators for heat, and these keys are needed when there’s air trapped inside, causing it to not heat efficiently.

Schneider's Hardware Wyndhurst Baltimore Maryland Retro Roadmap

I grew up in a house heated by big metal radiators, and I had never heard of these, so it was exciting to learn something new!

I also learned that the gift and garden items that we saw upon our arrival were actually from Jeff’s wife Pat’s shop behind the house. Known as Carriage House of Schneider’s She carries plants, herbs, candles and unique gifts for the home and garden, with many made by local Maryland artists.

So next time your modern mobile map takes you on an unexpected route, just think – instead of a dubious detour, perhaps you’ll be led to a hidden gem like Schneiders!

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  • jeannebodine

    You didn’t happen to pick up a few of the radiator keys that you could sell me, didya? We live in a house built in 1929 and are only the 2nd owners. It seems like we lose a key every few years. We are now down to 2 and I’ve attached colorful ribbons to them so they stand out. I was thinking of putting them in a ‘safe place’ but that’s a surefire way to lose something forever as I can never seem to remember where the ‘safe place’ is. Sadly, my husband has been diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s so things are disappearing a a faster rate.

    Now I know I have take a trip to Baltimore this year. My niece lives in Arlington, VA and I live outside Philly so I can swing by & buy 25 or so of the radiator keys. As always, love your work!

  • jeannebodine

    You didn’t happen to pick up a few of the radiator keys that you could sell me, didya? We live in a house built in 1929 and are only the 2nd owners. It seems like we lose a key every few years. We are now down to 2 and I’ve attached colorful ribbons to them so they stand out. I was thinking of putting them in a ‘safe place’ but that’s a surefire way to lose something forever as I can never seem to remember where the ‘safe place’ is. Sadly, my husband has been diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s so things are disappearing a a faster rate.

    Now I know I have take a trip to Baltimore this year. My niece lives in Arlington, VA and I live outside Philly so I can swing by & buy 25 or so of the radiator keys. As always, love your work!

    • Jeanne – thanks for the kind words, and best to you and your husband. They had a whole bowl of the keys when we were at the shop, https://www.flickr.com/photos/modbetty/30666483382/in/album-72157676147940525/ I bet they’d be more than happy to mail you a few if you can’t make it down there!

      • jeannebodine

        Thanks for the tip, I’ll contact them. I’d gladly buy 10 at this point because we love our house and plan to stay here as long as we can. 10 keys would make me feel so happy & I could lose the anxiety every time winter comes our way. Great stuff as always!

  • Love!! Of course I’m partial since this is my hometown! I’ve never heard of Schneider’s so now I must go there. Thank you for featuring such a great place- I’ll be sharing it on social media in hopes my friends will shop there too 🙂

    • Debbie- thanks for helping to spread the word, and to shop there too – that’s one way we can all help make sure these cool old places survive. And it’s always nice to let these hardworking folks know you appreciate them sticking around 🙂 Glad to help, and you’ve got a cool hometown with plenty of neat places to discover!

      • Thank YOU Mod Betty for helping us discover them!! Geez, right in my backyard -so to speak- and I had no idea. I’m actually feeling really down about my hometown right now with everything that has been going on but people like YOU really help to make me appreciate it and look at it with a different perspective. Thank you for that. xo

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