A National Historic Landmark, this brick, Italianate row house was the residence of noted Baltimore Sun journalist and author Henry Louis Mencken from 1883 until his death in 1956. A curmudgeon with an acidic writing style, Mencken gained national recognition as one of the most influential critics of American culture, politics, education and life, coining the word "booboisie" to describe the American public. His influence was unmistakable as the foremost authority on the American language through his multi-volumed The American Language. He also discovered and championed such new and bold American writers as James Branch Cabell and Sinclair Lewis. Mencken's diatribes against American culture and democracy went so deep that he once received an appreciative authographed photograph from Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II. Mencken himself came from German ancestry, and was vocal about his opposistion to American involvement in World War I. Mencken's interests went beyond the politics and contemporary culture of the day; he once produced a book on the philosophy of German philogist-turned-philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
Mencken wrote of his house: "I have lived in one house in Baltimore for nearly 45 years. It has changed in that time, as I have - but somehow it still remains the same…. It is as much a part of me as my two hands. If I had to leave it I'd be as certainly crippled as if I lost a leg." (Charles A. Fecher, Mencken: A Study of His Thought. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1978, p. 47) After he passed away on January 26, 1956, he bequeathed his home to the University of Maryland. In 1983 the City of Baltimore aquired the H. L. Mencken House from the University, in exchange for the Old Pine Street Station. Most recently the house served as a museum and a center for theatrical, literary and musical events.
The H. L. Mencken House is located at 1524 Hollins Street in the western half of the block formed by Stricker and Gilmore Streets in the Union Square-Hollins Market Historic District of west Baltimore. Once part of the Baltimore City Life Museums, the house is currently not open to the public.
H.L. Mencken House
Color photo by Jeff Joeckel, National Register of Historic Places, B & W photo by Ronald L. Andrews, National Register of Historic Places
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