H. L. Mencken House Re-opens
H.L. Mencken House and Museum re-opens
to the public after a 22 year hiatus
November 24, 2019 (Baltimore) — The lifelong residence of the “Sage of Baltimore”, Henry Louis Mencken, iconic journalist, writer, magazine editor, authority on American linguistics, and literary critic (1880-1956), will be re-opening its doors, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday, November 24, 1 – 4 PM.
Due to its association with the writer’s work, strong and detailed documentation, and original furnishings, the city-owned H.L. Mencken House can be considered among the Nation’s most significant house museums associated with an American man of letters.
Previously operated by the Baltimore City Life Museums from 1984 until 1997, the H.L. Mencken House since then has been vacant, with its furnishings, art works, and artifacts stored at the Maryland Historical Society and other locations; most of these items have been returned and recently re-installed in the house.
“I am extremely happy and delighted to see the Mencken House renovation completed and the museum re-opened, benefitting not only us, the Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy, which will operate the museum, but also to the City and specifically the Union Square community and Baltimore’s visitors experience. By preserving the Mencken house and keeping it accessible to the public, including Mencken scholars, current and future generations will gain a sense of the iconoclastic and influential writer and his legacy” says Brigitte V. Fessenden, Acting Curator of the Mencken House Museum.
Lease agreements between Baltimore City and the Baltimore National Heritage Area Association, Inc. (BNHA), which will occupy the third and part of the second floor of the house as office space, and the Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy, Inc., which has curatorial oversight and will operate the museum, have been drawn up.
“We hope to bring a new energy to the house and community” said BNHA Executive Director Shauntee Daniels. “Mencken was a complex individual as we all are in some way or another. I’d like to focus on what’s important – strong neighborhoods and community are what make Baltimore a monumental city. Mencken loved his hometown Baltimore, so I think he would agree”.
A most generous bequest in the amount of now close to $ 3 million by former Mencken Society member Navy Commander Max Edwin Hency, for the purpose of restoring, re-opening, and operating the Mencken House, was received in 2006 and is managed by the City.
Jackson Gilman-Forlini, the historic preservation officer for the Baltimore City Department of General Service, is providing oversight of all city-owned historic structures, stating “The Mencken House is a very elegant example of residential architecture that is representative of how people in the city lived from the 19th century and up to the present. We want to tell that story and preserve the structure’s historical integrity”.
Having undergone a $ 1.3 million restoration over the last 9 months, carried out by the Azola Building Rehab Company, this National and Baltimore City historic landmark will be once again accessible to the general public, Mencken scholars and fans, writers, students, and heritage travelers, enabling them to learn about the life and writings of H.L. Mencken and to see his preserved home and office from where he did most of his work.
The mission of the Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy, Inc. is to inform and educate a diverse local and national audience about the life and writings of Henry Louis Mencken in the City of Baltimore, by restoring, furnishing, and preserving his home and office, and by offering exhibits and programs that highlight Mencken’s legacy.
Contact: Brigitte V. Fessenden