Historic Structures

Building Additions Garret-Jacobs Mansion Baltimore Maryland

On April 2nd, 1902, the widowed Mrs. Garrett married Dr. Henry Barton Jacobs. Ten days later the Baltimore Sun for April 12th announced: "Mrs. Henry Barton Jacobs...has purchased from Mr. Robert A. Taylor his fine residence, 7 West Mount Vernon Place, adjoining her own mansion. The price..secret..but about $75,000". This was the "beginning of the last great extension of the house, designed "by John Russell Pope in 1905.

The Taylor house, like its earlier neighbors, was largely, or entirely, demolished. The facade of the new extension was carefully matched to that of the older part. Reading from front to back the addition had on the basement floor a Smoking Room, toilets and a wide stairhall, a Supper Room (large as a ballroom) and the basement of the stage which was on the level above. The main floor had a library, stairhall, and a Gallery with a stage and pipe organ. The second floor had "Dr. Jacob's Bed Room," a Trunk Room and Wardrobe Room, with the remaining space being the upper part of the great Gallery. On the third floor were several servants' rooms. The main floor entrance to this addition was through a door where the present fireplace is located in the Drawing Room. At that time the Drawing Room was a double parlor, with a dividing wall and two fireplaces located where the present two doors are.

Records for this phase were not found in the Garrett Papers at the Maryland Historical Society, but some may exist.

The Baltimore Sun, June 21, 1909, carried the following item: "Architect John Russell Pope, of New York, who designed the mansion on Mount Vernon Place of Mrs. Henry Barton Jacobs, has finished new plans for an addition to the present structure to be used as part of Mrs. Jacobs' magnificent art gallery. The new building will be a fire proof structure, 60 feet by 31 feet, and will be created on the spot now occupied by a stable building, which will be razed. The material used in the construction will be mostly concrete and marble... The basement floor of the addition will be used as servants' quarters and a storage room."

Although announced thus early, plans were not perfected until 1912-1913. The new picture gallery was erected across the rear of numbers 9 and 11 West Mount Vernon Place, connecting on the east with the "old" Gallery (or Ballroom-Iheatre) and on the west with the rear of number 11. This had two floors conforming roughly to the newspaper summary. The "basement floor contained three servants' or coachmans' rooms and some storage, a "covered court yard," and a "work room." The upper, or main floor, had an elaborate "New Picture Gallery," 60'9" long and 28'10" wide. Steel eye beams were used as joists, with brick bearing walls.

About 1915-1916 Mrs. Jacobs purchased number 13 West Mount Vernon Place, the Henry P. Janes house, and demolished most of the rear part of the building. The Baltimore Sun, June 28, 1941, stated, "No. 13 is only four rooms, the rear having been razed by previous owners for light and air."

Whether or not the desire for "light and air" was the sole motive is open to question. Reference has already been made to the suit instituted by Mr. Henry Janes in I884 against Robert Garrett. The local legend, as recounted by Mr. Robert E. Lewis, partner in Wrenn, Lewis and Jencks, architects, is that the Janes family lost their money about 1915 and Mrs, Jacobs, the former Mrs. Garrett, exacted a Jrind of revenge by buying the house and demolishing most of it to light her staircase.

Be that as it may, this development allowed the installation of exterior windows for the main staircase and the erection of a Icind of gallery-passageway which runs along this lot outside of the dining room and possibly served as a scullery or pantry. There are no drawings, and no direct information is available on this alteration.

About this time, perhaps, the old double parlor was converted into the present drawing room by removing the partition and two fireplaces and installing the present fireplace and the two large flanking doors into number 7. It is also probable that the room was redecorated as it now exists. Presumably John Russell Pope was the architect for these changes, which certainly seem typical of his designs.

Other lesser alterations were made from time to time. Mr. Lewis and others say that it is their impression that frequent redecoration was the rule.

As already stated, the British Merchant Navy Club opened in the building in 1941 and installed a gymnasium, showers, etc. in the basement. The Bourni Templers made several alterations in the interior between 1941 and 1958. Dr. Jacobs' bedroom was paneled with mahogany plywood and "modernized" for the Chief Potentate's office. A counter was built across the entrance from the main hall to the small parlor leading to the dining room. To the rear of the dining room a bare, cell-like room was installed and the dumb waiter removed. The brocaded wall covering of the nnew" picture gallery was removed and the wall painted. At some point the great central conservatory, which was surrounded by the house on all sides and according to old residents provided its most striking architectural feature, was dismantled and opened up as a court with terraces. A window with a Boumi design of camels etc. was placed in the vestibule.

In 1962, it was sold to Baltimore’s Engineering Society, an organization that contributed much to Baltimore’s revitalization after the Baltimore fire of 1904 that destroyed most of the downtown. In need of a new home, the Engineering Society moved into the property and rescued it.[2] The Engineering Society has overseen restoration of this mansion since that time. The Ladies Auxiliary immediately brought in furniture and began fund raisers to make repairs. Many of the engineers contributed their own skills, time, and in-kind gifts. When the property was purchased, ice had formed on the floor of the drawing room. One of the first projects was redoing the chipped and crumbling façade. Over $6 million later, the heating has been repaired and updated, air conditioning added, the conservatory has been enclosed again after the ceiling had fallen away. The drawing room, the library, the theater, the foyer have all been refurbished. A new kitchen has been added. In 1992 the Garrett- Jacobs Endowment Fund was established as another way to draw attention to the beautiful structure and attract funding. Almost all of the rooms have now undergone major renovation.