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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Tim Bishop, 03/1982
H.L. Mencken House
Inventory No.: B-926
Date Listed: 7/28/1983
Location: 1524 Hollins Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1883-1956
Architect/Builder: Architect: W. Claude Frederic; Builder: Jacob Saum
NHL Date: 7/28/1983
Description: The H.L. Mencken House is a typical middle-class Baltimore row house of the late 19th century. Built in the early 1880s, the house is characteristically of common bond brick construction with Italianate decorative detailing. The facade or south elevation is three stories high, three bays wide with 1/1 sash windows, crowned by a bracketed wood cornice, and rests on a marble foundation. The principal entrance is in the east bay of the south facade, and consists of a double door with a round-arched transom and boldly molded surround. A telescoping rear wing projects to the north. The one-story extremity of the wing was built about 1923. A garden enclosed by a brick wall and wooden fencing and featuring a pergola and sculpture extends from the back of the house to Booth Street. Although some changes were made to the property in recent years, the house and garden remain intact for the period of Mencken's occupancy, 1883-1956. The principal interior woodwork consists of architrave molding. The house is entered through a small vestibule with paneled walls and marble flooring. Entrance into the main or stair hall is through a set of glazed double doors, one of which bears a brass plaque inscribed with Mencken's father's name. The staircase has turned balusters and newels and decorated stepends, and rises to the third floor. The ceiling in the front parlor is divided into panels by plaster strips and has a cornice and central molded medallion above a chandelier. The front and back parlors are connected by a rectangular doorway with paneled pocket doors. Significance: For nearly 70 years, this modest three-story brick row house on Union Square in West Baltimore was the residence of H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), a journalist who became one of the most influential editors, authors, essayists, and social critics in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. The house, which remains intact, reflects the personal side of the man who as editor and co-founder of the "American Mercury" (1924-1933) and, earlier, editor of "The Smart Set" (1914-1924) enjoyed literary influence and fame and championed such new and bold American writers as Theodore Dreiser, James Branch Cabell, and Sinclair Lewis. Mencken was also the foremost authority on the American language through his multi-volumned "The American Language."

 

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