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BALTIMORE NATIONAL HERITAGE AREA

PRESS RELEASE: A NEW CHAPTER FOR H.L. MENCKEN HOUSE

Heritage Area Takes on House Restoration, Opening to Public as Museum Celebrating Life of the “Sage of Baltimore”

[Contact: Jeffrey Buchheit 410-878-6411 • jbuchheit@baltimoreheritagearea.org]

September 12, 2018 (Baltimore) — The Baltimore National Heritage Area (BNHA) today entered into a lease agreement with the City of Baltimore to assume stewardship of the home of journalist, critic, and author H.L. Mencken (1880-1956). The three-story, Italianate rowhouse on Hollins Street was built around 1880 and is both a city landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Mencken, who reported for the Baltimore Sun, was known for myriad essays and his three-volume study The American Language. He lived in the house for most of his lifetime from 1883 until his death in 1956.

BNHA will manage the renovation, working closely with the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development and the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Upon completion, the heritage area will collaborate with the Mencken Legacy Group to develop museum exhibitions and programming and set hours for the public to visit the home. Funds for renovation, ongoing maintenance, and interpretation will be provided by the estate of Max Hency, who made a $3 million bequest to Baltimore City for this purpose.

“We are thrilled to be part of this collaboration with our city agency partners to revitalize this local and national landmark,” said BNHA Executive Director Jeff Buchheit. “We look forward to working with the volunteers from the Mencken Legacy Group on how to best interpret the life and work of Mencken, including the controversial aspects of his career.”

While the house is structurally sound, years of vacancy require restoration of the home’s flooring and interior finishes, repairs to the roof, roofing repairs, and general improvements to bring the building up to modern codes. Once complete, rooms on the first and second floors will interpret Mencken’s life and legacy. BNHA will occupy the third floor as office space.

“I am very happy and grateful that this historic landmark will now be receiving the care and attention it deserves,” said Brigitte V. Fessenden, president of the Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy. “It’s a win-win situation for the house, H.L. Mencken’s Legacy, the Union Square neighborhood, and heritage tourism for Baltimore City.”

The heritage area will begin to oversee the renovation project later this year. The goal is re-open the house with a public event on September 12, 2019, one year from today and the 139th birthday of the iconic writer that the New York Times called “the most powerful private citizen in the United States.”

The mission of the Baltimore National Heritage Area is to promote, preserve, and enhance Baltimore’s historic and cultural legacy and natural resources for current and future generations. Visit www.explorebaltimore.org for more information about the Baltimore National Heritage Area.

13th Mencken Graveside Memorial (2018-01-28 14:00)

The Mencken Graveside Memorial will once again be conducted by Oleg Panczenko at the Mencken gravesite at Loudon Park Cemetery, 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD.

The brief memorial will be held Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 2:00 PM. Attendees are invited to retire to Spirits West, 2601 Wilkens Ave. after the memorial.

Loudon Park Cemetery: enter at 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229. Note: the Frederick Ave entrance is closed. Enter through the Wilkens Ave entrance.

Location of grave: N 39° 16.693′ W 76° 40.683′ (39.278217°, -76.678050°)

For GPS users: Google maps recognizes geographic coordinates and knows the cemetery’s roads. Note that the Frederick Ave entrance is closed. Split your trip into two parts: leg 1 will be from your origin to 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD; leg 2 will be 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD to 39.278217°, -76.678050°.

Spirits West Country Club: 2601 Wilkens Ave (Cor. Millington Ave), Baltimore, MD 21223. (Make a left turn from Loudon Park onto Wilkens Ave. and drive 1.6 miles. Spirits West will be on your right at the end of Baltimores’s longest block of row houses and across the way from St Benedict’s Church.)

Updates and changes due to inclement weather will be posted here on the Society’s website.

Mencken's Grave-site

Map to Mencken’s Grave-site

Der Tag 2017: Schedule of Events

Mencken Day 2017 will be celebrated Saturday, September 9, 2017.

At France Hall, Maryland Historical Society, 201 West Monument Street:

10:30 AM Annual Meeting of the Mencken Society.

Speaker: George W. Liebmann on “Mencken on Church and State.”

2:00 PM The 2017 Mencken Memorial Lecture: “When America Was Great and Baltimore Knew Better,” presented by Darryl G. Hart, author of Damning Words: The Life and Religious Times of H. L. Mencken. A book signing follows the program.

At the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral Street:

10:00 AM to 5:00 PM The Mencken Room in the Carla D. Hayden Wing of the Central Library is open to the public.

Exhibits:

“H. L. Mencken and the First World War”
“Mencken and the New York Evening Mail”
“Mencken’s A Book of Prefaces”

Mencken Family Grave Site 2016

Image

This is the Mencken Family Grave Site as of January 22, 2016. The 2016 Memorial Service (conducted January 31) could not be held grave side because the cemetery’s road to the site was under snow and was, instead, conducted from the Funeral Home’s parking lot.

Mr Mencken’s ashes are buried under a ledger-style stone visible in the right side of the photograph. An unknown admirer left a patriotic decoration of an American flag with red, with and blue flowers by it. The decoration reminds Mencken Society member JD of the Saturday Night Club’s song “I am a 100% American! Oh yes, I am! Goddam.”

Mencken Family Grave Site 2016-01

Mencken Family Grave Site 2016-01

Patriotic decoration added to Mr Menken's grave stone.

Patriotic decoration added to Mr Menken’s grave stone.

Mencken Graveside Memorial 2016

Image

On Sunday, January 31, Oleg Panczenko and four attendees, one a boy of 5 (not pictured), assembled at the parking lot of the Loudon Park Funeral home to remember Mr Mencken. The road to the Mencken Family grave-site was impassable as groundskeepers gave priority to clearing the roads for scheduled funerals.

The ceremony was longer than usual, running from 2:05 to 2:15. The warm weather was conducive to longer oration. Mr Panczenko spoke on Mr Mencken’s views of the Confederacy, the South, and the “Lost Cause” in connection with Baltimore’s steps towards removal of four historical monuments. A slightly revised copy of his talk, “Monumental Disagreement” is available as a pdf file.

Afterwards, the group retired, as usual, to Spirits West County Club on Wilkens Ave.

Attendees at the Mencken Memorial Service 2016-01-31

Attendees John Dausch, SJ, and CM at the Mencken Memorial Service 2016-01-31

Mencken Graveside Memorial 2016

The 11th Annual Service will be held Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 2:00 PM at the Mencken Family Grave site, Loudon Park Cemetery, 3620 Wilkens Avenue, Baltimore. Signs will point the way to the grave-site. After the brief memorial service attendees are invited, as usual, to the Spirits West Country Club, 2601 Wilkens Avenue. Check this site for weather-related updates.

Loudon Park Cemetery: enter at 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229. Note: the Frederick Ave entrance is closed. Enter through the Wilkens Ave entrance.

Location of grave: N 39° 16.693′ W 76° 40.683′ (39.278217°, -76.678050°)

For GPS users: Google maps recognizes geographic coordinates and knows the cemetery’s roads. Note that the Frederick Ave entrance is closed. Split your trip into two parts: leg 1 will be from your origin to 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD; leg 2 will be 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD to 39.278217°, -76.678050°.

Spirits West Country Club: 2601 Wilkens Ave (Cor. Millington Ave), Baltimore, MD 21223. (Make a left turn from Loudon Park onto Wilkens Ave. and drive 1.6 miles. Spirits West will be on your right at the end of Baltimores’s longest block of row houses and across the way from St Benedict’s Church.)

Mencken's Grave-site

Map to Mencken’s Grave-site