Building Community, One Brick and Story at a Time

Military family Laura and Joe Speakman, along with their 3-year-old son Jonah, are on the move again but are marking their time spent in Canton with a commemorative brick at O’Donnell Square Park. Joe is in the US Air Force, so they move often. We asked Laura why Canton has been so special to them and here’s what she shared.

Why did you buy a brick?

It’s our 11-year wedding anniversary present to each other and we want to commemorate our favorite assignment. We also want to leave our mark. Maybe Jonah will be able to come back someday and think about his younger years here being a "Baltimore baby".

What did you like most about living in Canton?

It is tough to have a young child, being in the Air Force, and not have family around. But Baltimore, and Canton in general, has been a great place to bring up our baby. We have an amazing group of neighbors who support us who have become our extended family.

We love Weekly Stoop Nights with our neighbors! We’ve hung out nearly every Wednesday since 2017. Even if it was raining or cold out, we'd meet up at someone's house with big windows and a storm door, gather around the coffee table and enjoy each other's company. Thursdays at work were inevitably less productive!

We’ve also really enjoyed hosting annual block parties. This year we added a bounce house and received great support from our neighboring restaurants; thanks Smaltimore, Bmore Licks, JDs Smokehouse, Verde, and Full Tilt! It’s so cool to go to these restaurants and have the server know all our names and what my kid wants to eat (cue the Cheers music)!

Overall, we really loved taking in everything Baltimore has to offer! We took advantage of the easy access to downtown of all the time. We appreciated the educational opportunities to learn about the history of Baltimore, like the Flag House, which is surprisingly kid-friendly, and my kid loves. We were also members of the National Aquarium, Port Discovery, Science Center, and the Maryland Zoo.

What else do you want people to know?

I don't mind being a walking, talking advertisement for Baltimore. Three short years was hardly enough. The one thing about moving away is I get to travel around the country and tell everyone how awesome this city is!”

The Speakmans’ commemorative brick will be installed along with 32 others during a ceremony in late July. Date TBD. Thank you to Lauren Mallon for organizing the CCA Buy-A-Brick program.

If you want to support the endowment to maintain O'Donnell Square Park with the purchase of a commemorative brick, visit The cost of a commemorative brick is $70. You may also purchase a replica of your brick with felt backing for an additional $35. And, we can duplicate previously purchased bricks, too! If you are not sure of what to say on your brick, email and we can help you find the perfect wording. The brick will be installed along the pathway by the east and west flowerbeds in the park.