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Sea Urchin Statue in Mount Vernon

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N Charles Street & E Centre Street (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 48.41″ N 76° 36′ 56.33″ W

History

Edward Berge was one of Baltimore’s prominent sculptors. An attendee of the William Rinehart School of Sculpture, Berge continued his education in Paris under Auguste Rodin. He created numerous monuments throughout the city and generally works in a realist style. He is, however, most well known for his carefree and playful garden figures. The original Sea Urchin, now located at Johns Hopkins University, was created by Berge in 1924, and installed at Mount Vernon Place in a fountain in front of the Washington Monument.

For over thirty years it stood in the south park, until 1961, when is was moved to Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus and replaced with an enlarged version. Frederick Huber wished to memorialize the local sculptor by having a larger more monumental Sea Urchin cast, one that would fit in better with its grand surroundings. Chosen to execute the reproduction was Edward’s son, Henry Berge.

Notes

The enlarged Sea Urchin was the subject of consistent vandalism for years after its installation. On various occasions the statue was moved during the night, only to be found in some strange area of the city the following day. Sometimes the memorial would be dressed in people’s clothing, confronting residents and tourists with a ghostly air. Eventually the pranks ended and the Urchin was granted the peace it deserved. The sculpture resides in Charm City’s oldest wishing well, standing guard over the town’s hopes and dreams.

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May 15th, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Marquis de Lafayette Monument in Mount Vernon

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Washington Place & Mt Vernon Place (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 49.86″ N 76° 36′ 56.48″ W

History

Marquis de Lafayette was a wildly-popular French military hero of the American Revolution. Lafayette served in the Continental Army under General George Washington, hence the proximity of his monument (just south) to Washington’s memorial in the heart of Mount Vernon. Lafayette’s involvement in the American Revolution, though it went against the orders of the King of France, was instrumental in solidifying bonds of friendship and military alliance between the fledgling United States and France, along with such diplomatic contemporaries as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

After rising through the ranks of both the American and French armies, Lafayette ultimately returned to France as a special adviser to the king in 1788, and presented in council session a draft of a document fundamental to the French Revolution, The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. But as the French Revolution mounted in intensity, Lafayette as commander of the French National Guard worked to maintain order, for which he was persecuted and eventually imprisoned by the more radical elements of the Revolution.

In 1824-25, President James Monroe invited Lafayette to tour the United States. Lafayette was given a hero’s welcome wherever he went. He visited all twenty-four states and traveled some 6,000 miles. Huge crowds gathered to salute the man, towns were named after him, memorials were erected in his honor and he was even granted honorary United States citizenship by a direct act of Congress – one of only six individuals to have been given this civic honor. One hundred years later on September 6, 1924, Baltimore dedicated its own monument to this great general, with sculpture by Andrew O’Connor and landscape architecture by Thomas Hastings. Lafayette was buried in France under American soil from Bunker Hill.

Notes

Baltimore’s Washington Monument looms atop a spire directly north of Lafayette, who sits upon his horse facing south down the hill towards the Inner Harbor. Washington’s huge arm is outstretched, so that it seems almost like he’s commanding Lafayette to ride off into the distance. Apparently the Oneida tribe, whom Lafayette recruited to the American cause, referred to him as Kayewla (“fearsome horseman”). Lafayette’s monument sits directly between the Peabody Conservatory, part of Johns Hopkins University, and the Walters Art Gallery, which houses a fabulous collection of cultural and artistic treasures from around the world and is open to the public for free.

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May 15th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

George Peabody Monument in Mount Vernon

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East Mount Vernon Place (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 51.18″ N 76° 36′ 54.33″ W

History

Born in 1795 in the town of South Danvers, Massachusetts, George Peabody was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who moved to Baltimore in 1816, where he lived for twenty years overseeing the dry-goods mercantile business he co-founded, Peabody, Riggs, and Company.

In the 1850s, while in London, Peabody became involved in banking, forming a prominent partnership with Junius Spencer Morgan, father of financier JP Morgan. A number of large financial institutions, including Morgan Grenfell, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, can trace their roots directly back to Peabody’s handiwork. For this reason, a statue of Peabody quite similar to Baltimore’s was unveiled before his death beside the Royal Exchange in London.

Peabody is also considered to be father of modern philanthropy. In 1857, Peabody founded the first music conservatory in the United States in Baltimore, the Peabody Institute (now a part of Johns Hopkins University). In 1862, he set up the Peabody Trust in London to provide housing for the city’s deserving poor.

After the American Civil War, he established the Peabody Education Fund to educate children from the Southern States, and is known to have donated some $8 million dollars to charitable trusts and organizations during his lifetime. His philanthropic acts served as a model for others, including Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Bill Gates.

Notes

Peabody’s Baltimore Monument rests in the park just east of the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon. Immediately to his south is the historic Peabody Institute building, with the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church to the north.

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May 15th, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Roger B. Taney Monument in Mount Vernon

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North Mount Vernon Place (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 52.60″ N 76° 36′ 56.62″ W

History

Roger Brooke Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, and is most historically noted for authoring the Dred Scott Decision (Dred Scott v. Sanford), which ruled that “…slaves could not win freedom by escaping to a free state and that no black person could be a U.S. citizen,” and which is considered an indirect cause of the Civil War.

Taney was, presumably, operating under a conceptual framework of dual federalism, in which individual states were seen as sovereign and separate from the federal government. Before being appointed to the Supreme Court under Andrew Jackson, Taney also served as Attorney General for his home state of Maryland and was the twelfth Attorney General of the United States.

He also notably kept a home in Frederick, MD where he practiced law with his partner Francis Scott Key, who authored the National Anthem. Taney died during the final months of the Civil War on the same day that Maryland abolished slavery. President Lincoln made no public statement regarding Taney’s death or career.

In 1865, controversy raged over the creation of a memorial bust of Taney to be displayed along with the four other chief justices who preceded him. Congress rejected the proposal and Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner proposed that a vacant spot be left in Taney’s space.

In 1873 when Taney’s successor, Salmon Chase, died, Congress finally appropriated funds for both busts to be displayed in the Capitol. A statue of Justice Taney resides outside the Maryland State House, and Baltimore’s exquisite monument to this complicated figure is a re-cast of that 1871 sculpture by William Henry Rinehart. It was donated to the city by the Walters family in 1887.

Notes

Taney is situated just north of the Washington Monument proper, in a sunny location. He faces south and to his left you can see the elegantly beautiful spire of Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church, a building “…named by the American Institute of Architects as the most significant in the city of Baltimore.”

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May 15th, 2009 at 1:31 pm

War, Peace, Order and Force in Mount Vernon

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War Peace Order Force

The famous French artist Antoine-Louis Barye created a series of monuments, each depicting a man, boy and beast that decorate the Place du Carrousel, Louvre. William Walters purchased smaller bronze reproductions of War, Peace, Order and Force and donated them to the City of Baltimore. The Walters were strong supporters of Barye during his career. Their art gallery contains over one hundred sculptures, paintings and sketches by the expert animalier. Along with the Barye Lion, War, Peace, Order and Force are on public display year round circling the George Washington Monument in Mount Vernon Place. The statues were dedicated in 1885.

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May 14th, 2009 at 6:14 am

Francis Scott Key Death Marker in Mount Vernon

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On the front of the United Methodist Church in Mount Vernon Place is a tablet to Francis Scott Key. The plaque was created in 1912 by Hans Schuler and marks the location of the lawyer’s death. Key died of pleurisy in his daughter’s home, formerly located on this site, at the age of 64. The historic Asbury House, designed by J. Rudolph Niernsee and James Crawford Neilson, is next door.

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April 29th, 2009 at 7:29 am

Pope John Paul II Monument at the Basilica

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W Franklin Street and N Charles Street (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 42.19″ N 76° 36′ 56.38″ W

History

Commemorates Pope John Paul II’s 1995 visit to Charm City. The trip came at the invitation of William Keeler, who was elevated to Cardinal by the pontiff. The sculpture is based on a photo of the Pope arriving in Baltimore, embracing two Baltimore children. The prayer garden is also dedicated to religious freedom and ecumenism. Artist: Joseph Sheppard; garden designed by Scott Rykeil. Once the site of the historic Rochambeau apartments which were demolished to create this contemplative space. Ground-breaking ceremony held April 11, 2008.

Notes

Located in the prayer garden at the north-eastern corner of the Basilica of the Assumption, also known as Baltimore Cathedral. Across the street is the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, which bears a uniquely beautiful facade of its own. A high-energy location as traffic flows in from the east and south.

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February 20th, 2009 at 10:02 am

James Cardinal Gibbons Statue at the Basilica

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W Mulberry Street and Cathedral Street (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 39.60″ N 76° 36′ 58.20″ W

History

Dedicated Dec. 17, 1967, this monument depicts Cardinal James Gibbons (1834-1921), Archbishop of Baltimore. Sculptors: Harold Schaller and Betti Richard. Gibbons served as a chaplain at Fort McHenry during the Civil War. Gibbons was the second American to be elevated to the office of cardinal. Notable for his support of the labor movement. There’s another monument dedicated to him in Washington, DC. Gibbons is buried below the Cathedral.

Notes

The monument is located within the gate at the Baltimore Basilica, in the southwest corner, diagonally across the property from the papal prayer garden. Gate is open during the day, with a ramp and staircase. The monument’s inscription describes him as an “exemplary citizen” and “friend of humanity.” Enoch Pratt Free Library faces Gibbons across Cathedral Street.

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February 20th, 2009 at 9:58 am