Old Alms House

A Home for 'vagrants, beggars, vagabonds'

At the session of Assembly in November 1773, an Act was passed appointing Charles Ridgely, William Lux, John Moale, William Smith, and Samuel Purviance, of Baltimore Town, and Andrew Buchanan and Harry Dorsey Gough, trustees for the poor of Baltimore County, with corporate powers to fill their own vacancies, and to elect one new member annually in the place of the first-named in succession. Four thousand pounds in bills of credit, of a larger loan made to the county, in common with other counties, were directed to be paid the trustees, for the purpose of purchasing:

"in Fee or Quantity, of land in the said county, not exceeding 100 acres, near and convenient to Baltimore Town, but not within a half a mile thereof; and to agree and contract with a workman or workmen, to undertake, erect, build, and in a workmanlike manner to complete and finish, on the said land, when so purchased, good, strong, sufficient and convenient houses, habitations, and dwellings, for the reception of the poor of said county, and of such vagrants, beggars, vagabonds, and other offenders, as shall be committed; and shall appropriate one part thereof, to be called the Alms-house to and for the reception and lodging of the poor of said county; and another part or parts thereof to be called the Work-house, to and for the reception and lodging of all such vagrants and other offenders...

The elevated and beautiful site of the Alms-house was first purchased of Mr. William Lux for £350, containing twenty acres, being nearly in form of a square, and situated northwest of the town at the head of North Howard street, and was on the square formed by Eutaw, Biddle, Garden, and Madison streets. The trustees erected the necessary buildings, then laid out the grounds, planted them with trees in the most agreeable manner, excellent water being procured from two wells about seventy feet deep each, with pumps. On Wednesday, September 18th, 1776, a fire broke out in the garret, caused by accident with some flax in the main building. The wind blowing fresh from the westward, the fire soon communicated to the dome and east wing, both of which were nearly consumed before the engine from town arrived. By the activity of the inhabitants, part of the west wing of the house was preserved and most of the furniture. The main building was immediately rebuilt, but the wing not until some years after. In 1792 nearly ten acres of land was purchased of Mr. Russell, agent of Mr. Lux, for the sum of £167 13s. 5d., and added as a pasture, by Messrs. P. Hoffman, W. McLaughlin, Alexander McKim, David Brown, George Presstman, James McCannon, and Samuel Hollingsworth, the then trustees who with difficulty obtained the acquiescence of the County Court, and to which ground the burial-place was removed from the south side of Howard street when that street was extended ten years afterwards. In pursuance of a law passed in 1805, commissioners were appointed to open a road in the extension of Howard street, to the north side of the Poor--house ground converting the square into two angles, and separating about one-half of the garden from the other and from the buildings, and the trustees were authorised to lease part of the ground so separated from the rest... The old almshouse between Eutaw and Howard streets was demolished about the year 1827.

Excerpted from John Thomas Scharf, Chronicles of Baltimore (Baltimore, MD: Turnbull Brothers, 1874), 72-74.


Old Alms House

Old Alms House

Excerpt from an 1829 city directory map showing the location of the Alms House north of Madison Street. | Source: JScholarship, 1774.2/33840 | Creator: R.J. Matchett View File Details Page

Access Information:

The site of the Old Alms House is now the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus

Street Address:

827 Linden Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21201 [map]

Cite this Page:

John Thomas Scharf, “Old Alms House,” Battle of Baltimore, accessed December 6, 2019, http://www.battleofbaltimore.org/items/show/318.


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