Baltimore Jail

"Troubled times" at the Baltimore Gaol

This building, which we have represented in the accompanying plate, is the successor of a goal, that stood at one time not far removed from the Old Court House, during the days of the Arch and Leonard Harbaugh, and which in its turn supplied the place of that establishment, which was built of logs on the east side of South Frederick street, for the confinement of prisoners, in the days of "Mr. Chamier, the Sheriff." The present goal is rather a pretty building, standing on the east side of Jones' Falls, and to the north of Madison street. It is not yet finished, according to the original design of Mr. R.C. Long, the architect. It forms only one side and part of the returns of a quadrangular range of buildings intended to enclose a square court. The lower story, and the principal part of the other stories, are vaulted as a safe-guard against fire, as well as additional security against escapes. The apartments are generally twenty feet square, and are well ventilated.

The Baltimore gaol has seen troubled times, and was the point of attack during the tumults of 1814, in the city.

The gaol was formerly under the control of the sheriff and the revenue that he derived from it was the most lucrative part of his income. The Legislature have now adopted a new system, and a better one, with regard to it. It is under the management of a warden who receives a fixed salary, and who is subject to the supervision of a board of visitors. It is remarkable for the cleanness of every part of it; and although still susceptible of many improvements in the arrangement of its parts, and in the classification and separation of the prisoners, it is still, on the whole, an excellent and well conducted establishment.

Excerpted from John H.B. Latrobe, Jr., Picture of Baltimore (Baltimore, MD: Lucas Fielding, Jr., 1832), 84-85.


Baltimore Jail (1832)

Baltimore Jail (1832)

Hand colored plate of the Baltimore Jail by John H.B. Latrobe. | Source: Image from John H.B. Latrobe's Picture of Baltimore (1832). Courtesy JScholarship, Library (Sheridan) General Collections.. | Creator: Latrobe, John H.B. View File Details Page

Access Information:

The site has retained its function for over 200 years, now serving as the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Street Address:

300 E Madison St, Baltimore, MD 21202 [map]

Cite this Page:

John H.B. Latrobe, Jr., “Baltimore Jail,” Battle of Baltimore, accessed September 16, 2019,

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