Monument City Blog

Branches of Baltimore History

Archive for the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Category

Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore

with one comment

Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery is located in west Baltimore and is bound by Redwood Street to the north, Lombard Street to the south and Martin Luther King Boulevard to the west. 2.8 acres of land was purchased in 1800 as a burial ground for Old Saint Paul’s growing congregation. The church, established in 1692, is one of 30 original parishes granted to the Colony of Maryland by the Church of England.

Several prominent American war veterans are interred at Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery. Revolutionary War hero and Maryland politician John Eager Howard is buried here in his family vault. Howard is famous for leading the 3rd Maryland Regiment during the Battle of Cowpens. He later served as 5th Governor of Maryland from 1788 to 1791.

George Armistead rests within the park’s boundaries. Commander of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, Armistead died just four years after the epic Battle of Baltimore. His nephew Lewis Armistead became a Confederate Brigadier General during the American Civil War and was incredibly courageous at the Battle of Gettysburg, a battle which ultimately claimed his life. He lies next to his uncle near the cemetery’s center.

Francis Scott Key, author of the Star-Spangled Banner, was initially interred in the Howard family vault. His daughter Elizabeth was married to Charles Howard, the fourth and youngest son of John Eager Howard. Francis Key died at his daughter’s Mount Vernon home in 1843. His remains were moved to Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland in 1866.

Jacob Small, Jr. is buried in Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery. Small fought in the Battle of North Point during the War of 1812 and later served as mayor of Baltimore. He designed the Aquila Randall Monument in 1817. The memorial still stands in Dundalk.

Other notable Marylanders at rest here are politicians Samuel Chase, James Carroll and George Howard. Chase signed the United States Declaration of Independence and eventually became an associate justice of the Supreme Court. His father, Reverend Thomas Chase, was the first pastor of Old Saint Paul’s Parish. James Carroll was a Congressman from Maryland and George Howard, 1st son of John Eager Howard, was the 22nd Governor of the state.

Robert Cary Long, Sr. was a self-taught American architect responsible for designing and building numerous structures throughout the City of Firsts. His Peale Museum and Davidge Hall remain. Long was a member of Old Saint Paul’s Parish and was the architect of its second church building which burned down in 1854. He sleeps within the park’s protective walls.
• • •
An interesting aspect of historic cemeteries is the burial bell. In the past there was a legitimate fear of being buried alive. A bell atop a burial room with a string hanging below was one last insurance policy for the recently departed. Cemetery workers were employed around the clock to listen for the ringing of the dead. Rick Tomlinson, Verger for Old Saint Paul’s Parish and gatekeeper of its graveyard, pointed out a few burial bells while he graciously lead me around the grounds.


Written by monumentcity

October 29th, 2011 at 11:24 am

The Patterson Park Pagoda

without comments

During the War of 1812, as British troops approached Baltimore aiming to eliminate the bothersome privateer port, Commodore John Rodgers organized his large group of local volunteer soldiers at Hampstead Hill (now part of Patterson Park). Known as Rodgers’ Bastion, the fortified position provided a perfect vantage point during the British invasion of September 1814, allowing the Commodore to see the English flotilla coming up the harbor as well as the foot soldiers marching from North Point. The intelligent organization and courageous execution of Charm City’s defenders resulted in American victory. The Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key during the campaign.

In 1892 Charles H. Latrobe (grandson of Benjamin Henry Latrobe) saw the completion of his monumental Patterson Park Pagoda at the top of Hampstead Hill. The four story oriental style tower is made of fabricated iron supports, wood and glass. The ornamental building has three observation decks with a spiral staircase leading to each. The perspective from the top deck is one of the best in Baltimore, with views of Canton, the Inner Harbor and downtown.

In 1914, during the Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Baltimore, two monuments were placed directly in front of the Victorian pagoda. J. Maxwell Miller’s Star-Spangled Banner Centennial Monument depicts two school children holding a memorial scroll and the Rodgers’ Bastion Memorial Cannon commemorates the land battle lead by Commodore Rodgers. Nearby is a row of five cannon representing the War of 1812 fortification.

The Patterson Park Pagoda was completely restored in 2002 and is operated by the Friends of Patterson Park. The observatory is open from noon to six on Sundays from April to October. The historic location is one of the most engaging in Charm City, offering layers of historical value and intrigue.


Written by monumentcity

June 6th, 2011 at 10:01 am

War of 1812 Bomb and Rack

with one comment

This War of 1812 Bomb and Rack is positioned on Redwood Street between South Street and S. Calvert Street. The central downtown location is across from the Joseph Evans Sperry and J. B. Noel Wyatt designed Mercantile Trust and Deposit Company building. Fired from a British warship during the Battle of Baltimore, the bomb was found inside Fort McHenry after the historic engagement. An officer retained possession of the artifact, eventually gifting it to iron merchant Michael Keyser who, in turn, gifted it to the city. The monument was dedicated in 1863, was knocked over during the Great Fire of 1904, and rededicated in 1906. According to a 1905 map of Baltimore City, the Bomb and Rack mark the spot of the Keyser Building.

The Rack, where the bomb sits, was used to bend iron bars so they could fit inside Conestoga wagons. Used extensively during the 18th and 19th Centuries, the horse, mule or oxen drawn carriages could carry up to eight tons and were the American military’s primary cargo vehicle until the the arrival of the railroad. The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Inventory of state monuments lists the War of 1812 Bomb and Rack under their Baltimore City category.

Written by monumentcity

February 4th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Baltimore’s Flag House

without comments

The Star-Spangled Banner Flag pwas conceived and primarily sewn at Baltimore’s Flag House. The historic building and museum was once occupied by Mary Young Pickersgill and her successful flag making business. In 1813 Colonel George Armistead, then commander of Fort McHenry, expressed interest in two oversized banners for the star-shaped stronghold. General John Stricker (who is buried in Westminster Burying Ground) promptly placed an order with the Pickersgill company for the giant pennants. $574.44 of federal money exchanged hands and Pickersgill, her daughter, two of her nieces and an indentured servant began fulfilling the contract.

The Great Garrison Flag measured 30 feet by 42 feet, while the Storm Flag was smaller (17 feet by 25 feet) and more suitable for inclement weather. The Great Garrison Flag was so large it had to be sewn in sections and taken to a nearby brewery for final assembly. Claggett’s Brewery (as it eventually became known) was owned by Mayor Edward Johnson and was one block from the Pickersgill house. The women worked by candlelight during evening hours, unknowingly creating an American icon. The brewery building is no longer standing.

Written by monumentcity

January 26th, 2011 at 11:36 am

Architect Edmund George Lind

without comments

Edmund George Lind was one of America’s earliest successful architects. Born in England in 1829, Lind eventually studied at the London School of Design. After apprenticing in several offices in his home country, he moved to America to work for N. G. Starkwether. The partnership gained commissions in Baltimore with Lind working on Starkwether’s design of Mount Vernon’s First and Franklin Presbyterian Church. The young architect soon switched firms, joining William T. Murdoch. Edmund’s most famous work, the Peabody Institute & Library, comes from this period.

Lind’s artistic endeavors were not limited to building design. He was interested in the correlation between math, music and color. Inspired by the acoustic properties of his physical creations, Edmund began using the number seven to create the perfect environment for sound. He noticed the relationship between the seven colors of the spectrum and the seven tones of the diatonic scale. Applying these principals to popular music of the time, Lind created visual representations of song. One piece he transposed to color was Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner. His essays and drawings on the subject are kept at the Peabody Library.

Buildings in Baltimore designed by Edmund George Lind:

Written by monumentcity

March 31st, 2010 at 6:13 am

Human Flag at Fort McHenry in 1914

with 2 comments

On September 12, 1914, during the citywide centennial celebration of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Baltimore dedicated Fort McHenry as a public park. 6500 school children were arranged on a grandstand in the form of a massive human flag. The children, accompanied by a 250 piece marching band, sang Francis Scott Key’s historic anthem, a song inspired and written during the Battle of Baltimore. The Star-Spangled Banner would finally become the nation’s official anthem in 1931. Edward Berge’s George Armistead Monument was unveiled during the day’s festivities.

Written by monumentcity

March 17th, 2010 at 7:05 am

Mayor Edward Johnson

without comments

Edward Johnson was elected in 1808 as the third mayor of Baltimore, replacing Thorowgood Smith. Johnson was subsequently re-elected in 1810, 1812, 1814, 1819 and and finally in 1822.

In the summer of 1812, with war against England looming, an angry mob of Baltimoreans trapped and tortured a group of British Sympathizers at old city jail. Mayor Johnson arrived in order to quell the situation, where he advised the prisoners and negotiated with the mob. His stance against the instigators was an important political decision as Baltimore, and the United States, moved away from vigilantism. He is also noted for owning the brewery in which Mary Pickersgill sewed the Star-Spangled Banner, America’s most significant flag.

A doctor by trade, Johnson began his medical practice the same year he entered politics. During a serious yellow fever outbreak in 1819, Johnson donated $150.00 of his own money for the publication of a medical report on the epidemic. His efforts proved central in ending the citywide health crisis. An historical tablet, placed across the street from Carroll Mansion, marks the location of his former home. Brewer’s Park, recently replaced with a hotel, was once next door.

Written by monumentcity

February 7th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Holliday Street Theatre Tablet at War Memorial Plaza

without comments

The Holliday Street Theatre used to be located directly across from Baltimore’s City Hall, at the present site of War Memorial Plaza. Junius Brutus Booth, the father of John Wilkes Booth, made his first American appearance in the historic playhouse, as did Francis Key’s Star-Spangled Banner. Aside from Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre, the Holliday was the oldest playhouse in the country.

Constructed 1794 by Thomas Wignell and Alexander Reinagle, the wood-framed building was given the nickname “Old Drury” by locals. Robert Cary Long rebuilt the theater between 1811 and 1813 after a devastating fire. Long’s building lasted until 1873 when another fire wiped out the historic structure. Rebuilt again in 1874, the Holliday Street Theatre was eventually razed in the 1920s to make way for War Memorial Plaza. This tablet, located at the base of War Memorial Plaza’s southern flagstaff, marks the original spot of the building.

Written by monumentcity

October 14th, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Wells & McComas Monument in Old Town

with 8 comments

E Monument Street & N Aisquith Street (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 52.66″ N 76° 36′ 6.84″ W


Daniel Wells and Henry McComas were apprentice saddle makers in Charm City during the War of 1812. By 1814, the teenagers were part of Captain Edward Aisquith’s Militia Rifle Company, preparing for an eventual English attack. After successfully sacking Washington DC, including the White House, The British decided to swing by Baltimore in hopes of eliminating the pirates and privateers stationed in the notorious port. General Robert Ross was in command of the invading land troops that approached the town’s western boundaries in September of 1814. Ross had a military background spanning 30 years and had served in the Napoleonic Wars.

As the Aisquith Company positioned itself on the North Point Peninsula, an area fortified a year earlier in fear of an impending British invasion, General Ross, noticing the American positions, found refuge on the local farm of Robert Gorsuch. Here he had breakfast cooked for him while waiting for the rest of his army to arrive. Brigadier General John Stricker, in charge of the 3,000 plus soldiers advancing the British land assault, ordered a group of 230 men with one cannon to flush General Ross out of the Gorsuch farm. Wells and McComas were a part of this small brigade, their defining moment arriving swiftly.

Riding on a white horse (or a black horse, depending on the source), General Ross was shot in the battle, mortally wounded by the American Militia. Daniel Wells and Henry G. McComas have been given equal credit for the historical deed, each sacrificing their life in the progress. Another American soldier was shot at the scene, 24 year-old Aquila Randall, credited with being the first United States fatality of the Battle of North Point, was found near the bodies Wells and McComas, all three had fired their weapons.

Noted local poet and Baltimore historian Christopher T. George has shed light on the possibility a sniper, and not Wells and McComas, killed General Ross at the Battle of North Point. As a reference George cites a passage in the book The British Invasion of Maryland, 1812-1815 by William Matthew Marine. The volume contains a conversation between an American, Henry Wilson, and an English gentleman claiming to have been General Ross’s aide de campe at the Battle of North Point. The British soldier reports that Ross’s mortal wound was “caused by a musket ball and a buck-shot”, his testimony running counter to the notion the wound was caused by musket ball only. The Independent Blues militia of the 5th Regiment used this modified method, loading ‘buck and ball‘, for their weapons. George also wrote that: “the unit’s commander, Capt. Aaron R. Levering [of Independent Blues], is alleged to have seen an officer ride up at the head of the enemy line. He is deported to have ordered his men, ‘Take good aim, there’s an officer.’ The militiamen saw the British officer fall from his horse and from the description of his uniform it was thought that it was Ross.”


In 1854, a committee gathered with the notion of erecting a monument to Wells and McComas. On September 10, 1858, after securing and investing the funds for the project, the bodies of the teen militiamen were exhumed and placed in the Maryland Institute. Thousands of people visited the coffins during the three days leading up to September 12th, the anniversary of the Battle of North Point, when the official cornerstone for the memorial was laid. On that day, the bodies of Wells and McComas were paraded to Ashland Square, the site of interment, and placed below the obelisk’s foundation in ceremonial fashion. The 21-foot monument was finally completed in 1873 and is made of Baltimore County marble. The Obelisk portion, resting on a two-step granite pedestal is comprised of two large pieces of marble, weighing 14 and 8 tons respectively.



Written by monumentcity

June 1st, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Hans Schuler’s Centennial Eagle at City Hall

without comments

Hans Schuler’s Centennial Eagle, created for the centennial celebration of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, is displayed on City Hall’s second floor. The sculpture, dedicated in 1914, was originally placed on the outside front of the building, but has since been restored and moved inside. A dedication plaque is affixed to the statue’s plinth. Its inscription reads: TO COMMEMORATE THE CENTENARY OF THE WRITING OF THE AMERICAN NATIONAL ANTHEM “THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER”

Written by monumentcity

May 12th, 2009 at 7:51 pm