by R. Beau
February 19, 2003
Groundbreaking for the 241-foot granite monument was held July 4, 1815, and work would not be completed until Nov 25, 1829, culminating in the hoisting of the 16-foot, 30-ton statue of General Washington to the top of the edifice.
Original plans called for the monument to be located downtown on the former site of the court house, but local residents protested, convinced that anything of its height would surely fall and crush the nearby homes. The next day, John Eager Howard, a prominent citizen who had served under General Washington, stepped forward to donate land on his estate for the purpose, located well north of the town.
For years, livestock grazed the fields surrounding the monument's base. As the city grew, the land around the monument became highly sought-after real estate, and in the 1850's, would become Baltimore's most exclusive neighborhood. Grand brownstones lined the manicured park which extended 1 block in each direction from the center. This area would take it's name from the home of the man the monument honored, Mt. Vernon.
Today's visitors can still sense the austere personality of the area's history, and relish the relaxing embrace of the urban oasis. The monument is accessible on an irregular basis. Interested visitors should consult the tourism bureau for information. If you are lucky enough to find it open, you can climb the 228 stairs that spiral to the observation area, offering a unique view of the city skyline, the Charles Street corridor, and the Mt. Vernon Place and Monument Place parks below.
If the monument is closed, visitors can still enjoy the engravings in the base which detail Washington's Revolutionary War victories. A walk through the neighborhood will reveal charming architecture, numerous statues and fountains, and the grounds of the Peabody Conservatory of Music.
From journal 'Welcome to Bawlmer, Hon'