Readings at The H.L. Mencken House, October 12, 2013

Inspired by Mencken and Nathan’s American Mercury magazine, The New Mercury Nonfiction Reading Series comes to Mr Mencken’s home on Hollins Street with readings by Mr Mencken (as incarnated in John Dausch) and contemporary writers Fernando Quijano III of Baltimore, Jennifer Tress of Washington, DC, and, from Leesburg, Virginia, Dave Ungrady.

The readings will be conducted at The H.L. Mencken House, 1524 Hollins St, Baltimore, MD, from 2-4 pm, on Saturday, October 12, 2013

This event is part of Literary Arts Week, a week-long celebration of literary arts programming and writers, poets, and readers, part of Free Fall Baltimore. Created in partnership by CityLit Project, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, the Maryland State Arts Council and with the participation of the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.

Visit The Friends at the Baltimore Book Festival 2013


The Friends are at the Baltimore Book Festival on the west side of the Washington Monument directly across from the Food For Thought stage.

The Friends' Booth at The Baltimore Book Festival

Our Booth at BBF 2013

Stop by and introduce yourselves. Add to your library of books by and about Mr Mencken.

Take advantage of our Book Festival Special: Become a members of both The Friends of the H. L. Mencken House and the Mencken Society and save $20! (Memberships may also be purchased individually at the regular prices.)

The Book Festival is at Mt. Vernon Place, 600 North Charles St; its hours are:
Friday, Sept. 27, 12-8
Saturday, Sept. 28, 12-8
Sunday, Sept. 29, 12-7

Happy 133rd, Mr Mencken!


Join the Friends in celebrating Mr Mencken’s 133rd birthday at his house on 1524 Hollins St on Sunday, September 8, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

H. L. Mencken was born September 12, 1880 and we are celebrating his birthday a few days early to coincide with Mencken Weekend. The house and garden will be open and light fare will be served. Beer and wine will be available for a modest amount. The highlight of the occasion will be cake (with candles, though not 133 of them) served in his beloved garden.

If you plan to attend the birthday celebration, you may also consider attending the Mencken Day celebration at the Enoch Pratt Free Library the day before, on Saturday, September 7, 2013.

What: Mencken Birthday Celebration
Where: 1524 Hollins St, Baltimore, MD
When: Sunday, September 8, 2013 from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Marion Rodgers: Mencken On The Red Scare

Marion Elizabeth Rodgers will give a talk on Mencken’s writings about “The Red Scare.”

Where: Room 618 (Main Reading Room of the Bar Library)
Mitchell Courthouse
100 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, MD

When: April 30, 2013 (Tue), 5:00 p.m
Wine & cheese reception immediately following.

The event is free but R.S.V.P. to 410-727-0280 or reply by e-mail to

Please consider making a voluntary contribution to the Bar Library’s Honorable Harry A. Cole Self-Help Center.

Let An Expert Show You The Mencken House

Tour the Mencken House on Saturday, April 20, 2013 with Marion Elizabeth Rodgers as part of Johns Hopkins’ Odyssey Program. The course fee is $30 for either the morning or afternoon tour. There is a $3 entrance donation at the door to benefit the Friends of the H. L. Mencken House.

Section 01 (morning): 10 a.m.-noon
Section 02 (afternoon): 1-3 p.m.

Marion Rodgers edited H. L. Mencken: Prejudices: The Complete Series (2010) for the Library of America. Her other books on H. L. Mencken are Mencken: The American Iconoclast (2007), The Impossible H L. Mencken (1991), and Mencken and Sara: A Life in Letters (1987).

More details about the tour are at Odyssey’s website (scroll down).

The 2013 Mencken Graveside Memorial Service

The eighth Mencken Graveside Memorial Service will again be conducted by Oleg Panczenko at Mr Mencken’s grave at Loudon Park.

When: Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Where: Mencken Family Gravesite, Loudon Park Cemetery, 3620 Wilkens Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21229

Mr Mencken’s grave is in Lot W 224 North Half, Space 4, N 39° 16.693′ W 76° 40.683′ (39.278217°, -76.678050°). Directional signs will be posted.

Click here for a map.

After the brief memorial service attendees are invited to the Spirits West Country Club, 2601 Wilkens Avenue (cor Millington Ave), Baltimore, MD 21223, not far from St Benedict’s Church.

The End Of A Pear Tree

There will be no partridges in the pear tree at the Mencken House this Christmas. Workmen from Forest Valley Tree & Turf LLC of Jessup, MD, arrived this morning to remove the remaining portion of the Bradford Pear which had split during the derecho of June 29, 2012.

The tree which was cut down was not original to the garden but had been planted to replace the one that was originally there. A reference from 1963 says that the original tree was a “Kieffer pear tree”. In Happy Days Mr Mencken writes that “[t]he pear tree survives to this day, and is still as lush and vigorous as it was in 1883, beside being thirty feet higher and so large around the waist that its branches bulge into the neighboring yards.” In 1982, the tree is described in a newspaper article as “a now scraggly looking pear tree.” The Mencken House was acquired by the City of Baltimore in July 1983 and was opened as a museum on June 15, 1984. Sometime between the acquisition of the house and 1990, the original pear tree was replaced. A Bradford Pear was chosen because it is self-sterile, that is, it will not bear fruit unless it is planted near other pear trees. Fallen fruit attracts rats, creatures not unfamiliar to Baltimoreans.

The Bradford pear was originally cultivated at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Introduction Station in Glenn Dale, Md. and was named in honor of Frederick C. Bradford, a former director of the station. It was introduced in 1963 and was popular until its shortcoming became apparent: it is “a structurally defective tree, inadequate in the slightest wind, likely to split in half” and “highly susceptible to breakage by winds”.

Many thanks to Phil Hildebrandt who arrived early and erected a scaffold which made the workmen’s task easier and saved the garden bed from being trampled.


Mencken House Open House, Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Friends of the H. L. Mencken House will once again host an Open House at Mr Mencken’s lifelong home as part of the Union Square Christmas Cookie Tour.

Mencken House Open House
Sunday, December 9, 2012, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm
H.L. Mencken House
1524 Hollins Street, Baltimore, MD

Come and enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas celebration with period decorations, a traditional Baltimore train garden, German holiday treats and musical entertainment.

Admission to the Mencken House only is free. If you wish to visit the other homes open as part of the Christmas Cookie Tour you must purchase tickets either in advance online or at the Old Pratt Library No.2, 1401 Hollins St. on Sunday.


Richard Pickens, 1962-2012

Richard D Pickens II
(January 18, 1962, Huntington, WV–November 27, 2012, Annapolis, MD)

Richard Pickens at the Mencken House (2008)

Richard Pickens, President of the Friends of The H. L. Mencken House, died on Tuesday, November 27, 2012. He was the son of Richard and Babette Pickens. There will be a celebration of his life on Monday, December 3, from 6 to 8 PM at the George P. Kalas Funeral Home, 2973 Solomons Island Rd., Edgewater, MD. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Friends of the H.L. Mencken House, P.O. Box 22501, Baltimore, MD 21203-4501.

“Richard Pickens was a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. He was the owner of MGP Interiors, LLC, an interior design company operating within the Washington, D.C. area. His clients ranged from the White House, numerous law firms, embassies and  museums to private residences. For several years he was the Director of Historic Preservation for the Union Square Association. He also was a founding participant with the Historic Districts Council-Baltimore. Previously, Mr. Pickens was a registrar and exhibitor relations coordinator for the Smithsonian Institution. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Studentship for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy. Additionally, Mr. Pickens was the President of The Friends of the H. L. Mencken House. He lived near the Mencken House, and was an admirer of H. L. Mencken’s work since college.”