Mencken House Ribbon Cutting

Attendees at the Mencken House Ribbon-cutting

The Gathering outside the House at the Ribbon-cutting ceremony

On November 24th 2019 an invitation-only ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted at the Mencken House. Dignitaries and those who over the years gave any time and effort to the cause assembled outside the House. Brigitte Fessenden delivered the opening remarks with following brief remarks by Ethan P. Cohen, Senior Project Coordinator, City of Baltimore; Johns Hopkins, Baltimore Heritage; Bif Browning, President of the Union Square Association; and Shauntee Daniels, Executive Director, Baltimore National Heritage Area (BNHA). Light food was served.

Brigitta Fessenden

Brigitta Fessenden delivers her opening remarks

The proceedings went smoothly with the exception that the pin holding up one end of the ribbon failed in its duty. Dr Stacy Spaulding, Towson University, stepped in to uplift that end of the ribbon.

Dr Stacy Spaulding holding up one end of the ribbon

Dr Stacy Spaulding lends a handnd

H. L. Mencken House Re-opens After a 22 Year Hiatus

Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy, Inc.
1524 Hollins Street
Baltimore, MD 21223

Contact: Brigitte V. Fessenden
brigittefessenden@comcast.net
410-802-9201

PRESS RELEASE

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.

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