Monument City Blog

Branches of Baltimore History

Baltimore’s George Washington Monument

with one comment

Mount Vernon Place & Washington Place (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 50.80″ N 76° 36′ 56.40″ W


Begun in 1815, Baltimore’s Washington Monument was the first monument planned to our nation’s first president. However, it was not the first completed. The stonework monument in Washington County, MD at Washington Monument State Park was finished in 1827, two years before Baltimore’s elegant spire. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1815 and the statue by artist Enrico Causici was dedicated November 11, 1829.

Legend holds that a prodigy or omen was observed upon the raising of the statue to the top of the 178 foot doric column, “…a shooting star dashed across the sky and an eagle lit on the head of the settling general.” The Baltimore monument was designed by architect Robert Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument in Washington, DC. The original statue design featured Washington dressed in Roman military garb riding a chariot. As project finances tightened, the statue theme was modified to that of Washington resigning his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in Annapolis.

The original site for this massive monument was down by the old Court House, on Calvert between Lexington and Fayette, by the Battle Monument. Area residents, however, feared that the monument would either topple on their homes or attract lightning. Colonel John Eager Howard, who served under Washington, donated a portion of his estate, Howard’s Woods, to the project. The hill upon which this monument stands was, at the time, well north of the city proper. $100,000 was raised by lottery for the monument’s construction through the authorized sale of 35,000 tickets. The monument actually ended up costing $200,000. The statue and monument are made of marble from Cockeysville, just north of the city.


Over the coming decades after the monument’s completion, the parks running north and south (in the shape of a Greek cross) became filled with other outdoor sculptures, including monuments to Taney, Lafayette, John Eager Howard, Severn Teackle Wallis and George Peabody, along with the Sea Urchin statue, several ornate fountains, a proud regal lion by Barye, Military Courage and four corner pieces around the great circle of the Washington Monument depicting allegorically the figures of War, Peace, Order and Force.

As the Washington Monument project wore on, the original design for the column was simplified – some of the details of which were later re-invested into the ornate fencing surrounding the base of the column. During the warmer months, visitors to the Washington Monument can enter through the base (which contains a small museum) and pay a dollar to climb 228 stairs all the way to the top, which affords an excellent vantage point of the city.



Written by monumentcity

May 31st, 2009 at 9:31 am