Located at 844 East Pratt Street, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House was constructed in the late 1700s. At the time, Baltimore was one of the largest cities in country. People of different ages, genders, backgrounds, and skill levels sought to find work in this rapidly growing city. One young widow, Mary Young Pickersgill, used her sewing skills to support herself and her family.
The Pickersgill family began renting the Flag House in the early 1800s. In just over a decade, Mary saved enough money to buy the house, an unusual accomplishment for a woman at this time. She even added an addition onto the house and rented the rooms for extra income.
Mary, her daughter, and her nieces created a flag sewing business out of their home. Equally important to this work was Grace Wisher. She was an African American indentured servant who helped create one of the most iconic American symbols. In the summer of 1813, the Pickersgill family and Wisher sewed the flag that was raised over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore (September 13-14, 1814). This flag inspired Francis Scott Key to write a poem that is now the national anthem of the United States. Measuring 30 by 42 feet upon completion, the flag was the largest in the world at the time.
The Flag House remained in the Pickersgill family until 1864. The property exchanged hands multiple times and functioned as a saloon and a warehouse. In 1929, the City of Baltimore purchased the property and preserved it as a historic building. A National Historic Landmark, the house is now a historic home and museum.
The Star-Spangled Banner flag is currently cared for by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.
Check out the Junior Ranger Activity Booklet for fun games and activities about the Star-Spangled Banner and Fort McHenry.