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.
Alejandro Barbosa removing the branches of the pear tree
Not quite at the Top of the World
Almost finished with the hard part
The stump goes
All that remains
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 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.”
The Friends of the H. L. Mencken House will have a booth at the Baltimore Book Festival held Friday to Sunday, September 28-30.
On Friday (09-28), Jennifer Bodine, daughter of Baltimore Sunpapers photographer and Mencken collegaue A. Aubrey Bodine, will be signing copies of Bodine’s City, her latest book, a selection of her father’s photographs of Baltimore. (View samples of A. Aubrey Bodine’s photographs of H. L. Mencken and the Mencken House at aaubreybodine.com’s Mencken page).
Location of the Friends’ booth
Our booth (number 22 on the map) is on the west side of the Washington Monument.
We hope you will visit us!
When: September 28-30, 2012
Hours: Fri & Sat: noon-8pm, Sun: noon-7pm
Where: Mount Vernon Place and North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD.
More information: main page, schedule and map.
Celebrate Mencken Day September 8, 2012 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The Mencken Society has its annual meeting at 10:15 AM with guest lecturer H George Hahn speaking on “The Campus Trials of Mencken’s Satire”. The Pratt’s Mencken Memorial lecture at 2:30 PM will be given by Dr Richard Schrader who will present “The Scopes Trial: How the Letter Kills”.
In conjunction with the Mencken Day Celebration the Friends of the H L Mencken House will have the Mencken House open for Mr Mencken’s birthday on Sunday, September 9, from noon until 6PM. Come and enjoy cake, soft drinks and beer with us. Those who cannot attend the birthday party on Sunday but who would like to tour the house (sans treats) on Saturday, September 8, may make arrangements by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Friends will have a table at the 112th Annual Maryland German Festival at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Stop by and hoist a pils in memory of Mr Mencken with us.
The Friends will now be using WordPress for their webstite. There will be some rough spots as we learn WordPress’s ins-and-outs (so please bear with us) but the effort will be worth it.
Our new mailing address is:
The Friends of the H. L. Mencken House
Baltimore, MD 21203-4501