Skip to main content

Walter Sondheim, Jr. Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: R0131-WS

Scope and Contents

This Walter Sondheim, Jr. Papers document the civic work and life of Walter Sondheim Jr. (b. July 25, 1908 – d. February 15, 2007) in Baltimore, Maryland. The collection includes materials related to the many civic positions, appointments, board memberships, and leadership positions Sondheim held with numerous Baltimore area organizations, offices, and non-profits. The collection also includes materials related to speeches given by Sondheim. The Charles Center/Inner Harbor series documents Sondheim’s role with Charles Center-Inner Harbor Management, Inc. This collection is mainly textual and includes correspondence, reports, publications, and newspaper clippings. The collection also includes awards and photographs.


  • 1942-1994


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use. The prior access restriction expired January 1, 2017.

Biographical Note

Walter Sondheim Jr. (b. July 25, 1908 – d. February 15, 2007) was a lifelong resident of Baltimore and civic leader who was known for his roles in the redevelopment of downtown Baltimore City and the desegregation of Baltimore City schools.

Sondheim was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1908 and graduated from Park School in 1925. He graduated from Haverford College in Pennsylvania with a B.S. in 1929 and he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II in 1944-1946. Sondheim worked at Hochschild Kohn & Company, a local Baltimore department store, between 1929 and 1970 and retired as a senior vice president of the store. Sondheim was engaged in civic life throughout his career and held many positions as director, chairman, board member, etc. with local organizations and businesses. He was well known for his role as president of the Baltimore Board of School Commissioners in 1954-1957 during the desegregation of the city’s schools after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. He was also known for his early involvement in urban renewal and the redevelopment of downtown Baltimore as Chairman of the Baltimore Urban Renewal and Housing Commission and Housing Authority of Baltimore City (BURHA) between 1956-1963, and for his role developing the Inner Harbor as Chairman of Charles Center-Inner Harbor Management in the 1970s and 1980s. After leaving his position with Charles Center-Inner Harbor, he held a position with the Greater Baltimore Committee and continued to be involved in numerous civic roles. Sondheim died in 2007.

[Information for this Biographical Note was collected from materials in the collection and from magazine articles, newspaper articles and obituaries found in “The Baltimore Sun,” “Baltimore Magazine,” and “The New York Times.”]



July 25, 1908 - February 15, 2007

Married Janet E. Blum, February 15, 1934. They later had two children: John W. Sondheim and Ellen S. Dankert.


Park School, Baltimore, Maryland - Graduated 1925

Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania - B.S. 1929


1929-1970: Hochschild Kohn & Company

1944-1946: U.S. Navy

1972-1984: Chairman, Charles Center - Inner Harbor

1982-1984: Chairman, Market Center Development Corporation

1984: Executive Assistant to the Mayor of Baltimore

1984: President, Charles Street Management Corp.

1985: Management, Inc.


Maryland State Chairman, Crusade for Freedom, 1954-55

President, Board of School Commissioners, Baltimore, 1954-57

Chairman, Baltimore Urban Renewal and Housing Commission and Housing Authority of Baltimore City, 1956-1963

Chairman, Advisory Committee, Baltimore City Health Department

Chairman, Board of Trustees Goucher College

President, Board of Directors Sinai Hospital of Baltimore

President, Board of Directors Jewish Family and Children’s Bureau

Executive Committee, Greater Baltimore Committee, Inc.

Director, Associated Jewish Charities of Baltimore

Director, Baltimore Chapter, American Jewish Committee

Director, Baltimore Jewish Council

Director, Baltimore Goodwill Industries

Director, Baltimore Urban Coalition

Director, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Baltimore, Inc.

Director, Citizens Planning and Housing Association

Director, Council for Equal Business Opportunity

Director, Mercy Hospital, Inc.

Director, Provident Hospital


15.75 Linear Feet (19 containers)


Walter Sondheim, Jr. Papers document the work of Walter Sondheim Jr. (b.1908 – d. 2007) who was a Baltimore civic leader known for his roles in the redevelopment of downtown Baltimore City and the desegregation of Baltimore City schools.


This collection is arranged in six series:

  • Biographical
  • Correspondence, 1950-1993
  • Remarks, Speeches, and Talks
  • Appointments, Boards, and Commissions
  • Charles Center/ Inner Harbor
  • Photographs

Custodial History

The collection was donated to the University of Baltimore by John Sondheim and Ellen S. Dankert in April 2007.

Accessing Digital Copies

Digital versions of items in this collection are available online. Locate records by using the "Print" button above, or browse records in “Collection Organization." Records with associated digital objects are identified with a red Digital Object icon.

Finding aid for the Walter Sondheim, Jr. Papers
Finding aid created by Special Collections and Archives staff. Revised by Aiden Faust (2011). Revised by Laura Bell (2020).
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Baltimore Studies Archives Repository

H. Mebane Turner Learning Commons, Room 104
1415 Maryland Avenue
Baltimore Maryland 21201 USA