Striving for Civil Liberties: The Progressives of Mount Vernon
Baltimore’s wealthy not only created the rich architectural setting of Mount Vernon Place, but pioneered modern philanthropy. With the founding of the George Peabody Institute in 1857, George Peabody influenced many other wealthy Baltimoreans including Johns Hopkins. On one such occasion, John Work Garrett hosted a dinner party for Johns Hopkins and George Peabody where according to Garrett, Peabody told Johns Hopkins, “For the first time, (I) felt there was a higher pleasure and greater happiness than accumulating money, that was derived from giving it for good and humane purposes…” After this memorable dinner, it is said Johns Hopkins established in his will the creation of the university, medical school, and hospital. By 1893, Baltimore had more millionaire philanthropists than any other city in the country.
Mount Vernon residents also led the fight for Women’s Rights. In 1890, Mary Garrett (daughter of John Work Garrett), M. Carey Thomas, Elizabeth King, and Mary Gwinn, among others, formed the Women’s Fund Committee that, with a large donation, forced Hopkins Medical School to admit women on an equal basis with men.
This strain of progressivism survives today at the Baltimore School for the Arts. As one of the top public arts high schools in the country, the school provides training in dance, visual arts, music and theater. Founded in 1979, it occupies two historic buildings-the Alcazar Hotel, the former headquarters of the Knight of Columbus and 704 Cathedral Street, the 1850s-era home of George Brown, second chairman of Alexander Brown and Sons.
(Inscription below the lithograph in the upper center)
An 1870 lithograph celebrating the passage of the 15th Amendment giving African Americans the right to vote. The middle image captures Baltimore’s parade celebrating the event. Directly in the center is the Washington Monument.
(Inscription below the first photo on the right)
Women’s suffrage parade in downtown Baltimore in 1913. Many Mount Vernon residents participated in advocating for women’s right to vote. Mary Garrett and M. Carey Thomas held national influenced within the movement.
(Inscription below the second photo on the right)
This view of West Monument Street was taken from the Washington Monument ca. 1903. The home of John Work Garrett, president of the B & O Railroad, sat on the corner of Cathedral and West
(Inscription below the third photo on the right)
A portrait of Elisabeth Gilman (1867-1950) and her step-mother. Elisabeth Gilman, daughter of the first Johns Hopkins University president Daniel Coit Gilman, became a tireless social reformer. In 1890, she started a boys’ club and in 1915, a workshop for unemployed Baltimoreans, In World War I, she volunteered as a nurse in France. Here, she become interested in socialism and labor unions. In 1923, she organized relief efforts for striking West Virginian miners and defended members of the International Workers of the World. In addition, she joined the Socialist Party, ran for governor, U.S. Senate, and mayor of Baltimore. She was a board member of the League for Industrial Democracy, secretary of the Maryland Civil Liberties Union, and founder of the Christian Social Justice Fund. Her home, located on Park Avenue, was a refuge for “feisty communist-leaning reformers.”
(Inscription below the fourth photo on the right)
An image of Mary Elizabeth Garrett (1854-1915) who attended Miss Kramer’s School for Girls, at 8 West Mount Vernon Place. In her early years, Mary Garrett assisted her father in his business activities and became known as “papa’s secretary.” In
(Inscription below the fourth photo on the right)
The Alcazar Theater, built in 1926 as part of the Alcazar Hotel by the Knights of Columbus. Since 1979, it has been used as a performance and gallery place for the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Erected by Mount Vernon Cultural Walk.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public Work • Patriots & Patriotism. A significant historical year for this entry is 1857.
Location. 39° 17.85′ N, 76° 37.11′ W. Marker is in Mount Vernon in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is at the intersection of Monument Street and Park Avenue on Monument Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 202 W Monument St, Baltimore MD 21201, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Maryland Historical Society (a few steps from this marker); Grace and St. Peter's Church
Credits. This page was last revised on February 16, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 23, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 745 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 23, 2014, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 20, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 6, 7, 8. submitted on June 28, 2017, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.