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Francis Scott Key Monument at Fort McHenry

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Within Fort McHenry’s Constellation Plaza (Street View)

GPS: 39° 15′ 50.91″ N 76° 34′ 54.75″ W


This larger-than-life monument depicts the Greek mythological hero of music and poetry, Orpheus with his lyre. Around the base are depictions of Francis Scott Key and the muses celebrating the victory of the American defenders of Fort McHenry against the British in the War of 1812. Key (1779-1843) penned the words to the Star-Spangled Banner (which were subsequently put to a British drinking song) after having watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry from a British vessel, where he was negotiating the release of Dr. William Beanes, a resident of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. This magnificent piece by sculptor Charles Henry Niehaus was dedicated on June 14, 1922 and was originally situated in the middle of the entrance road to the fort, being moved to its current location in 1962. This monument is one of many in Baltimore commemorating Francis Scott Key. Two others are located in Bolton Hill and Mount Vernon Place, respectively.


In person, this monument is immense and sits quite imposingly against the open landscape on the south edge of Fort McHenry. In the distance to the south lies the windswept water. Small trees have been planted in the vicinity in honor of George Washington and other heroes. Interestingly, though Key wrote the words to the song in 1814, it was only in 1931 that a law was finally passed making the Star-Spangled Banner the National Anthem of the United States of America. At the dedication of this monument in 1922, President Harding became the first American president to be broadcast on coast-to-coast radio. The pedestal contains a time capsule that holds historic documents.



Written by monumentcity

March 3rd, 2009 at 10:38 am