Congratulations to Brianna Billups, founder of Fully Grown, LLC and winner of the Flag House’s 2020 Mary Pickersgill Award for Women’s Leadership in Business

The Flag House is proud to announce the 2020 honoree of the Mary Pickersgill Award for Women’s Leadership in Business, Brianna Billups, founder of Fully Grown, LLC.

Brianna Billups is an entrepreneur with a passion for bridging the gap between her community and the food they eat. She is a hospitality and culinary arts degree graduate of Anne Arundel Community College and received a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Baltimore. Brianna’s love for food began at an early age when she committed herself to a career as a chef. While attending college, Brianna learned the meaning of a “food desert,” realizing then that she had lived in one her entire life. The impact of learning about food deserts was the catalyst for the founding of her first business, Fully Grown LLC. Fully Grown is dedicated to teaching inner-city students about healthy eating habits and urban agriculture practices in partnership with a local nonprofit, It Takes a Village Inc.
Fully Grown also provides fruit snacks and meal prep services using all-natural
ingredients and 100% compostable packaging. Brianna is a former member of the University of Baltimore’s Entrepreneur Fellow Program and was the winner of the first Better Business Bureau Spark Award. Since the launch of Fully Grown, Brianna pitched and won a total of $10,000 in grant money for Fully Grown’s efforts. In 2020, Fully Grown will become a youth works site for students interested in culinary arts.

Congratulations to Reuben Williams, winner of the 2020 Flag House Scholar Award

Congratulations to our 2020 Flag House Scholar, Reuben Williams! Due to the cancellation of the Flag Day Celebration during the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuben fulfilled his obligation to read his essay in the recording below. Please join us in congratulating Reuben!

A bit about our winner:

Reuben Williams, is a home-educated high school senior matriculating to Southeastern University, in central Florida, as an honors student. Reuben intends to major in language, culture, and trade, fostering his deep-seated passion for other cultures.

Outside of his studies and job as a manager at Chick-fil-a, Reuben dedicates time to choir, teaching free English second language classes, and volunteers at various local charities and organizations including Christian Shelter and the Village of Hope. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuben helped give back to his community by volunteering at a food bank, sorting non-perishable items for distribution.

Throughout high school, Reuben maintained a record of academic excellence and holds one silver and three gold medals from the National Latin Exam, which he has taken annually since 7th grade. He also studies both Team Policy and Lincoln-Douglas style of debate. Reuben says, “most importantly, I have learned to appreciate learning as an opportunity to better myself, and take every chance to enrich my understanding of the world I live in.”

2020 Question:

Museums and historic houses have traditionally told the stories of the well-known history-makers such as George Washington’s Mt. Vernon or famous artists exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, museums and historic houses are increasingly developing research and exhibits that champion underrepresented groups. The historically significant actions of the working class, minorities, immigrants, and enslaved persons previously overlooked by mainstream narratives in American history are finally being shared. This is true of Mary Pickersgill and her household of craftswomen. At the Flag House, we work to preserve Mary’s legacy as a woman ahead of her time, business owner and advocate for the women of Baltimore, and as the maker of the Star-Spangled Banner. Although Mary and her team created the flag that inspired the national anthem, her story is frequently overshadowed by that of Francis Scott Key and the Battle of Baltimore.

The eighth Flag House Scholar Award will celebrate the historical contributions of unsung heroes from the past and present. Do you know of an unsung history-maker in your community? Is there an organization in your community working to keep the legacy of a historically significant, but often overlooked, individual alive and relevant? Identify a person living or from the past whose professional work, activism, or personal story has made a significant impact on you or your community. Describe why their story is unique and explain how they have changed the course of history.

Reuben’s Essay :

The day of war is the day of the hero when men and women alike rise up to defend the things they hold dear. One such hero is Charles Ball, an African American man from Maryland. Charles Ball was born a slave in Calvert County, Maryland, in 1781. For three generations his entire family was held in slavery. Eventually, Charles served in the War of 1812, the war that finalized American Independence, but history has neglected him. In light of his service, he deserves to be remembered for defending his homeland. Separated from his mother at a young age, Charles knew hardship well, yet he persevered and harbored no bitterness towards America and its inhabitants. In 1800 his master hired him out to the Navy for two years. In his autobiography, Charles writes enthusiastically about the comradery he experienced in the U.S. Navy. However, this hiatus from slavery was not destined to last, and he was again sold into slavery, this time in the deep south. After years of anguish and separation from his wife and children, Charles finally escaped and returned to Maryland in time for the War of 1812. In 1813, he enlisted again in the U.S. Navy. The significance of his choice cannot be overstated. The British Navy was offering guaranteed freedom to any slave who joined England’s cause. Charles, even knowing he could be forced back into slavery in America, still chose to fight for his country, in order to defend freedom he could not fully enjoy. Furthermore, Charles spent spare time trying to persuade his fellow slaves not to side with the British, but rather to defend America. After the war, Charles made his final escape from slavery to Pennsylvania, where he lived the rest of his days. Men and women like Charles Ball give everything for their nation, and they deserve to be remembered. I, with all Americans, owe Charles Ball and other heroes of liberty, thanks for the freedoms we enjoy. The true hero, like Charles, is the one who gives, even when he can expect nothing in return.

Maryland Archaeology Month – Buried Treasure of the Flag House: Immigration and Business in Jonestown & 2001 Survey

The Baltimore Center for Urban Archaeology (BCUA) expected to find a high concentration of cultural material at the site of the beehive oven foundation and previously undisturbed privy, and indeed they did with over 15,000 items being uncovered.

The BCUA team identified at least five buried yard surfaces in the survey area. They dated to 1928 – 1953, with objects associated with the occupation of the Flag House by the Association, 1875 -1928, with objects related to various tenants & businesses, and three areas where artifacts dated from the prehistoric era through the mid-19th century. The yard surfaces that included the oven foundation and privy held nearly 8,000, including those items identified as being from the period of Mary Pickersgill’s occupation. The earliest features indicate that the beehive oven was constructed after 1799 but before 1807. No trace of the shed that first appeared in the 1894 drawing was uncovered.

Artifacts associated with the yard surface dating to 1928 – 1953 and the Flag House Association’s occupation of the Flag House yielded 2,994 artifacts, mostly architectural.


Digging foundation of the Maryland House, c. 1950.
Architectural artifacts: wrought nail, cut nail, wire nail, glass, mortar, slate.

The privy feature sourced artifacts associated with occupation by various tenants and businesses between 1875 -1928, 6,076 artifacts, to be exact. The privy was built about the same time as the house – c. 1792/1793 and was likely used until about 1910. Around 1909, homes were connected to public sewers with large portions of the city connected by 1914. During this time, the house was used as a dual dwelling and retail space

Flag House, 1907

Immigration to Baltimore increases beginning around 1878. The influx of Eastern European Jews and Italian immigrants is represented in shops and occupants of the Flag House. Cobbler Moritz Zimmerman was among the first to live and work in the Flag House. The Zaborovsky family, immigrants of Poland, occupied the living quarters on the second floor. Italian immigrant and last resident of the Flag House, Placido Milio operated a steamship ticket office, bank of Naples, and freight agency with Adams Express Company from 1910 to 1927.

The Flag House as it appeared c. 1920

The 1875 -1928 yard feature yielded numerous objects associated with occupation by various tenants and businesses like these small bottles – evidence of the household supplies once kept by the general store and pharmacy that operated from the first floor of the Flag House. 


Green glaze, promotional penny bank in the shape of a tankard, C.D. Kenny Co. – Founded in Baltimore in 1872, opened a coffee, tea, and sugar store at Lexington and Greene Streets, later expanding to more retail stores in the region eventually closing the retail businesses by 1934 and moving to wholesale. This bank probably dates to the early 1900s. C.D. Kenny also happened to manufacture commemorative souvenirs for the 1914 Star-Spangled Banner Centennial.

Adults and businesses were not the only ones to occupy the Flag House or the surrounding tenements and rowhomes. Numerous toys and artifacts indicative of the lives of 20th-century children were found.

The 2001 Test Pits – Construction of the Hofmeister Building

The 2001 test pit survey sought to uncover any features and cultural material associated with the block of homes and businesses located behind the Flag House from Granby Street south to the Flag House and their yards and footprints that ran from Albemarle Street west to Slemmers Alley. Ground disturbance related to additions added the buildings located at 110, 112, 114, and 116 Albemarle Street between 1890 and 1901, had a significant effect on the study area.

Only 444 artifacts were uncovered from 9 features that included structural features, two brick-lined privies, one wooden lined privy, brick walls, and one stone wall.



Looking south on Albemarle Street toward Flag House, 1940’s

The detail of the 1890 Sanborn Map of Baltimore shows the Flag House outlined in red and the site of the 2001 archaeology survey. Feature I contained two brick-lined privies that first appear on the 1890 Sanborn map and yielded 222 of the 444 artifacts.

Flag House, rearview of Albemarle Street looking northeast across Pratt Street, about 1945.

The majority of artifacts contained in the test pits were household items and dietary remains in the backyards and privies associated with the dwellings within 110 to 118 Albemarle Street. Feature III was the site of a wood-lined privy that did not appear on any maps and had a dense concentration of artifacts including, architectural, faunal, kitchen, and toys.

It is unclear when these privies were taken out of use – features I and III were not filled until sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century, and feature II only had construction debris like ash, mortar, brick, and window glass. Based on the 1890 map, features I and III (the two brick-lined privies and wooden lined privy) appear to be associated with 112 and 114 Albemarle Street.

There was no privy identified for 110 Albemarle. It is likely under the modern sidewalk or masonry fence. Prehistoric artifacts were likely transported to the area via fill.

Peach pits and grape seeds
Personal Artifacts
1. Indian head penny, 1868
2. Indian head penny, 1900
3. tobacco pipe bowl
4. tobacco pipe stem
5. 1919 penny
6. 1943 nickel
7. Bakelite handle
8. 1868 Indian head penny detail
9. Lincoln head penny, 1919 detail front and back

What questions did the findings of both surveys answer? How does the Flag House answer existing questions and mysteries about the life of Mary Pickersgill and the women who lived in the Flag House and worked alongside her? How do these findings shape the ways in which the Flag House interprets and shares the stories of the diverse lives of its occupants?

Objects that belonged to Mary in the Flag House Collection and artifacts uncovered during archaeology seem to indicate that Mary was a lady of refined taste, despite her socio-economic role as a widow who never remarried. All speak to Mary’s position in the culture of her time and indicate a genteel middle-class station in society. The lack of tobacco pipe stems and bowls, also speaks to the household being mostly female for more than a decade (1807-1818).

As with objects that date to Mary Pickersgill’s occupation of the Flag House, artifacts from both surveys informed the ways in which we interpret the Flag House as part of the diversity brought to Jonestown by immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For much of the Flag House’s history, tours and interpretation, of course, focused on the birth of Star-Spangled Banner. However, the role the house played as a community resource is closely tied with the mission of the Museum today.

There was a wealth of artifacts related to the Milio family, which allow us to interpret themes in Maryland history connected to the social, educational, cultural, and economic experiences of Italian immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

What’s next for the Flag House and it’s once buried treasure?

Developing hands-on programming related to the artifacts gave us the opportunity to capitalize on our educational collection and connect more people with the story of Mary Pickersgill and of the Flag House. Programs teach students to handle and research primary sources and replica artifacts to experience life in a time far different from their own.

We continue to ask questions that we hope can be answered through researching these artifacts. As noted in the 1998 survey report, the faunal remains found in the beehive oven foundation need further analysis and could reveal a great deal about the diets of generations of Flag House occupants.

In 2020 and 2021, the Flag House will undergo a reimagining of its interpretive plan to include more about the immigrant experience, women’s history, and the history of enslaved persons in urban households, as well as, Mary’s free African American apprentice Grace Wisher.

The Museum will increase public and research access to its collection of artifacts through an ongoing digitization project.

By 2020, the Flag House will complete a third archaeological survey of a high potential area and possible privy beneath the brick walkway that is currently obstructed by the wheelchair ramp for the Maryland House building. This survey will be part of the restoration of the 1930s era brick and iron wall along Albemarle Street. Any cultural material found during this survey will join the Flag House Baltimore Center for Urban Archaeology collection of artifacts and be used to conduct further research about the diverse individuals who occupied the Flag House.

This series has been adapted from a presentation developed for the Flag House by Executive Director Amanda Shores Davis and given to the Friends of Clifton Mansion, September 2019.

Maryland Archaeology Month – Buried Treasure of the Flag House: Mary Young Pickersgill

Built in 1793 by Brian Philpot and occupied by flag maker Mary Young Pickersgill from 1807 until 1857, the Flag House is the site where Mary and her household of women crafted the large 30’ x 42’ garrison flag for Fort McHenry that inspired the national anthem. In the last half of the 19th century, the Flag House’s first floor was converted into more traditional business space. It was occupied by a general store, liquor store, post office, cobbler, bank, and steamship ticket and freight office. Many of these businesses were owned by immigrants and provided services in both Italian and English. Today the Flag House interprets Mary’s life as a female business and landowner. Both archaeological digs were conducted to discover more information about life in the Flag House, the home’s role in the neighborhood as a cornerstone that joined the communities of Jonestown and Little Italy and to better understand Mary as a woman who was exceptional for her time. There is very little to document Mary’s life before or after her time in Baltimore.

We know she was born in Philadelphia in 1776 at the height of tensions between the Americans and the British. We understand that the death of her father, William Young, in 1778 was the catalyst for Mary’s mother Rebecca turning to her brother Col. Benjamin Flower, Commissary to George Washington’s Continental Army, for assistance in launching a military supply business. We know that the same fate befell Mary when her husband John Pickersgill died while working in London in 1805, and like her mother, Mary never remarried and turned to flag making to support her daughter Caroline. And we also know that in her later life, Mary devoted her time to philanthropic ventures that aided the women of Baltimore whose lives closely paralleled her own experience. What we don’t know is how she felt about any of this. What were her tastes? How did she reconcile being a seemingly progressive woman with the rise of genteel values and societal pressure to be a respectable woman who was married, a mother, and virtuous? There are no known primary source documents in Mary’s voice. We have the receipt for the Star-Spangled Banner, the receipt for the last known flag made by Mary in 1815, and minimal records from the Impartial Female Humane Society during Mary’s presidency. The goal was to find and analyze the cultural material, personal objects, household objects, food, toys, tools, anything that might inform the previously unknown history of the Flag House and its occupants.

Mary Young Pickersgill, c. 1850

The Flag House is a two-story brick house with a third-floor attic and shared a party wall and eight-flue chimney with the building to the west on Queen Street (now Pratt Street). The kitchen wing, known as a flounder, was built at the same time as the central portion of the house. In March of 1799, two insurance policies were purchased for the home, No. 617, for the main block of rooms of the house and No. 618, which covered the kitchen. There is no mention of the beehive oven in the insurance policy for the kitchen – but because of the archaeology material located within the beehive oven foundation, we can be almost sure that it was constructed around 1807 when Mary moves into the Flag House. 

Floor Plans for the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House

In July 1807, Mary moved from Philadelphia to Baltimore after the death of her husband in 1805 to be near her mother, Rebecca, and her sister Hannah who lived a block from the Flag House on Granby Street. At this time, tensions leading up to the War of 1812 had already begun to rise, ignited by the British attack on the USS Chesapeake by the HMS Leopold and the 1807 embargo. After the War of 1812 and between 1820 and 1870, the population of Baltimore increased from 63,000 to 269,000.

Mary Young Pickersgill (in black) and her sister Hannah Young Wells Fearson (in plaid), c. 1845

By 1820, Mary Pickersgill was a homeowner having acquired half interest in the Flag House for $1,000, from the heirs of owner, Amos Vickers. On September 19, 1820, she purchased the remaining interest on the property for another $1,000. In 1828, Pratt Street was extended east and 60 Albemarle Street, the former address of the flag making business, changed to 44 Pratt.

About this same time after Mary took ownership of the house, architectural evidence suggests the Flag House’s kitchen was reworked. The beehive oven was removed in favor of an interior iron stove around 1830 (it is important to note that Mary’s son-in-law, John Purdy, was himself an iron merchant). Ghost lines in the brick of the kitchen wall indicate the location of a former opening that repeats the size of the exterior chimney base that would have allowed for a large cooking hearth and was probably associated with the beehive oven. Discontinued use of the beehive oven more than likely assisted in the preservation of the wealth of archaeological material uncovered in this survey unit.


This image from the 1955 interior restoration shows the drastically reduced size of the hearth opening.

On October 4, 1857, Mary Pickersgill died, and ownership of the Flag House passes to her daughter Caroline Pickersgill Purdy. Caroline Pickersgill Purdy leases the Flag House in May of 1864, selling the property outright in November of that year. The property was sold again to Samuel Ready in 1869, beginning an era of dwelling and retail use. Samuel Ready’s ownership dates from 1869 to 1878. Upon Ready’s death ownership of the house, passed to the trustees of the Samuel Ready Asylum for Female Orphans. The Samuel Ready trustees hold ownership until 1927 when the Flag House Association and Baltimore City take ownership of the property to preserve its history with the intent of opening a public museum dedicated to the Star-Spangled Banner. The Flag House opened to the public as a historic house on November 11, 1928. This 1894 sketch the earliest known drawing of the Flag House is done looking toward the Albemarle Street elevation we can see a small shed has appeared at the back of the kitchen – this is the site of the 1998 dig.

1894 Sketch of the Flag House

The Baltimore Center for Urban Archaeology (BCUA) expected to find a high concentration of cultural material at the site of the beehive oven foundation and previously undisturbed privy, and indeed they did with over 15,000 items being uncovered.

The total excavation site was a 10’ x 7.5’ square foot section of ground with artifacts totaling 15,507. There were 4,472 in unit levels, 11,035 in features. These 11,000 + artifacts were mostly found in 3 features: a 19th-century utility trench (2,994 artifacts), the beehive oven foundation (1,703 artifacts), and the privy feature (6,076 artifacts). The remaining 942 artifacts were spread out between 18 other features.

1998 Baltimore Center for Urban Archaeology Survey Map

The BCUA team identified at least five buried yard surfaces in the survey area. They dated to 1928 – 1953, with objects associated with the occupation of the Flag House by the Association, 1875 -1928, with objects related to various tenants & businesses, and three early yard areas where artifacts dated from the prehistoric era through the mid-19th century. The three early yard surfaces that included the oven foundation and privy held nearly 8,000, including those items identified as being from the period of Mary Pickersgill’s occupation. The earliest features indicate that the beehive oven was constructed after 1799 but before 1807. No trace of the shed that first appeared in the 1894 drawing was uncovered.

Fragments, like those pictured above, were found in one of those early yard surfaces and matched the pattern on this pierced fruit basket owned by Mary Pickersgill. They are likely remnants of the undertray for the basket pictured below.

More ceramic fragments representing utilitarian and decorative ceramics used in daily life throughout the 19th century.

Also found in the foundation of the beehive oven was evidence of the flag making business. Items included pins, thimbles, and a pair of scissors.

Objects that belonged to Mary in the Flag House Collection and artifacts uncovered during archaeology seem to indicate that Mary was a lady of refined taste, despite her socio-economic role as a widow who never remarried.

Mary advertises her flag-making business until about 1816, around the time when Caroline Pickersgill marries John Purdy. From this time until he died in 1837, John Purdy, an iron merchant, is listed as the head of the household. Despite Mary being the owner of the property, her flag making appears to cease between 1815 and 1816. Around this time in American society, genteel values of a woman’s position as wife and mother were widely accepted. In essence, Mary shows an inclination to prove she is of a true woman’s place in society through her possessions.

The Flag House interprets Mary’s life and household in this manner today. Female business operators in the 19th-century were considered less than virtuous than their contemporaries who took part in more traditional roles of child-rearing and housework. These attitudes did not seem to stop Mary from using her business success to acquire the refined furnishings and objects of material culture that would have adorned the homes of her contemporaries who may have been considered of a more genteel nature.

Part III of our Maryland Archaeology Month series, Buried Treasure of the Flag House: Immigration and Business in Jonestown, will be posted on Wednesday, April 29.

This series has been adapted from a presentation developed for the Flag House by Executive Director Amanda Shores Davis and given to the Friends of Clifton Mansion, September 2019.

‘A KNOCK-OUT FOR THIRST’

Founded in 1893 by brothers H.S. and L.W. Phillips, the Phillips Brothers Bottling Company and Champion Bottling Works was located at 609 South Caroline Street. An article from the RE-LY-ON magazine dated January 1922 describes the state-of-the-art bottling facility after the introduction of the rotary high-pressure bottle filler. At their start, Phillips Brothers Bottling was counting production by the dozens, but in 1922, the automatic filler’s daily output could reach 6,000 dozen bottles of Champion ginger-ale. The storehouse’s capacity was 40,000 bottles held in reserve for the summer rush on carbonated beverages. Champion beverages were so popular among Baltimoreans that without new stock, the reserve would have lasted less than a month. Champion soda flavors produced at the Baltimore plant were ginger ale, sarsaparilla, lemon, and chocolate. Champion cola and soda water could also be purchased in siphon bottles.

Phillips Brothers Bottling Company Ceramic Bottle Stopper
c. 1893-1927
The Phillips Brothers motif is two boxers and was depicted on stoppers and impressed into bottles.
This stopper is a tapered cone-shape and a pointed end which was fitted with a rubber gasket popular on glass bottles from the mid-1870s until the 1920s.

April is #marylandarcheologymonth ! We’ll be sharing some of the more than 15,000 artifacts found during excavations at the Flag House between 1984 and 2001. For a more in-depth look at the Flag House’s archaeological surveys visit, our blog where we’ll be posting a three-part series. http://www.flaghouse.org/blog 

Maryland Archaeology Month – Buried Treasure of the Flag House: Jonestown

There have been two significant archaeological surveys at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House. The first survey took place between September 1998 and January 1999, intending to uncover artifacts in a privy and beehive oven foundation directly behind the historic Flag House. This project uncovered more than 15,000 unique artifacts. The second and less extensive survey was done in 2001 to determine if there were any sites of significant cultural material located within the site area demarked for construction of the Hofmeister Building, the Flag House’s modern museum facility.
Built in 1793 by Brian Philpot and occupied by flag maker Mary Young Pickersgill from 1807 until 1857, the Flag House is the site where Mary and her household of women crafted the large 30’ x 42’ garrison flag for Fort McHenry that inspired the national anthem. In the last half of the 19th century, the Flag House’s first floor was converted into more traditional business space. It was occupied by a general store, liquor store, post office, cobbler, bank, and steamship ticket and freight office. Many of these businesses were owned by immigrants, provided services in Italian and English, and are evidence of the diversity of the Jonestown neighborhood. Today the Flag House interprets Mary’s life as a female business and landowner.
Both archaeological digs were conducted to discover more information about life in the Flag House, the home’s role in the neighborhood as a cornerstone that joined the communities of Jonestown and Little Italy and to better understand Mary as a woman who was exceptional for her time. There is very little to document Mary’s life before or after her time in Baltimore. We know she was born in Philadelphia in 1776 at the height of tensions between the Americans and the British. We understand that the death of her father, William Young, in 1778 was the catalyst for Mary’s mother Rebecca turning to her brother Col. Benjamin Flower, Commissary to George Washington’s Continental Army, for assistance in launching a military supply business. We know that the same fate befell Mary when her husband John Pickersgill died suddenly while working in London in 1805, and like her mother, Mary never remarried and turned to flag making to support her daughter Caroline. And we also know that in her later life, Mary devoted her time to philanthropic ventures that aided the women of Baltimore whose lives closely paralleled her own experience. What we don’t know is how she felt about any of this. What were her tastes? How did she reconcile being a seemingly progressive woman with the rise of genteel values and societal pressure to be a respectable woman who was married, a mother, and virtuous? There are no known primary source documents in Mary’s voice. We have the receipt for the Star-Spangled Banner, the receipt for the last known flag made by Mary in 1815, and minimal records from the Impartial Female Humane Society during Mary’s presidency. The goal was to find and analyze the cultural material, personal objects, household objects, food, toys, tools, anything that might inform the previously unknown history of the Flag House and its occupants.


1750 Plat of Baltimore Town & Jonestown – 1998 Study Area Highlighted

To understand the significance of much of the archaeology surveys’ findings concerning the Jonestown neighborhood, we need to travel back to Baltimore’s days as tobacco farmland. The Flag House sits in the Jonestown neighborhood of Baltimore City and is considered to be the oldest neighborhood in Baltimore, tracing its development back to the late 17th century. By that time, much of the original tracts of land owned by Thomas Cole and David Jones were used for tobacco cultivation. The parcels, owned by James Todd, amounted to just over 1,100 acres in the areas of the Jones Falls and today’s Inner Harbor.


1772 A.P. Folie Plan of the Town of Baltimore & Environs

Todd began to sell his land holdings in 1701, encouraging more tobacco farming and the first grist mill on the Jones Falls to be constructed in 1711. The tobacco planters eventually petitioned the Maryland General Assembly to form a town. Thus, Baltimore Town was established on 60 acres at Coles Harbor in December of 1729. Two years later Jonestown, also known as Old Town, was laid out across from the Jones Falls from Baltimore Town.

View of Baltimore, W.H. Bartlett, engraved by B. Fisher, London, 1835,
Star-Spangled Banner Flag House Collection, 2000.1.0

The land on which the Flag House sits was developed by Brian Philpot, whose occupation is listed as ‘gentleman,’ in 1793. That same year, with a jump in population growth, Baltimore’s merchants seized the opportunity to lobby the Maryland General Assembly to charter and incorporate Baltimore as a city; the request was granted in 1796. The land on which Brian Philpot built what would become the Flag House was part of the original Todd’s Range to the east of the Jones Falls and had been in the Philpot Family since the mid-18th century. The land had been subdivided in 1773 between Brian Philpot, Johnathan Plowman, and William Fell as additions to the City of Baltimore. This 1792 map shows the extent of development in Old Town – the Flag House lot at the corner of Queen Street (now Pratt) and Albemarle Street would be developed the following year.

Jonestown, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was a fashionable area of the City. Neighbors included Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the wealthiest man in Maryland, who wintered at Carroll Mansion at Front and Lombard Streets, beginning in about 1818. But the neighborhood was also very diverse, something that continues to characterize the community until this day. Jonestown had a robust population of tradesmen that owned homes with their shops and businesses below on the ground floor. There was a: brewery, cut nail factory, spinning wheel manufactory, printer, watchmaker, jeweler, plow maker, cabinet maker, carver and gilder, and of course, a flag maker.

1801 Map of Baltimore – By 1801 the City’s footprint expanded
in all directions, and Jonestown had grown even further to the east past Central Avenue

The Flag House is a two-story brick house with a third-floor attic and shared a party wall and eight-flue chimney with the building to the west on Queen Street (now Pratt Street). The kitchen wing, known as a flounder, was built at the same time as the central portion of the house. In March of 1799, two insurance policies were purchased for the home, No. 617 for the main block of rooms of the house, and No. 618, which covered the kitchen. There is no mention of the beehive oven in the insurance policy for the kitchen – but because of the archaeology material located within the beehive oven foundation, we can be almost sure that it was constructed around 1807 when Mary takes occupancy in the Flag House.

Part II of our Maryland Archaeology Month series, Buried Treasure of the Flag House: Mary Pickersgill, will be posted Wednesday, April 15.

This series is adapted from a presentation developed for the Flag House by Executive Director Amanda Shores Davis and given to the Friends of Clifton Mansion, September 2019.

Honoring the Women of the Flag House

Ruthella Mory Bibbins

Mrs. Ruthella Mory Bibbins (1865-1942), was a noted geologist and historian who wrote extensively on the history of Maryland and Baltimore. A native of Frederick County, she later lived in Baltimore City, graduating from Goucher College in 1897, then from Oxford a year later, receiving her Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 1900. In 1903, she married Dr. Arthur B. Bibbins, and together they devoted time to civic causes in Baltimore, including the founding of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House Association in 1927. Both Ruthella and Arthur Bibbins served as founding directors of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and purchased or secured the donation of many of the artifacts that remain in the Flag House’s possession today. The Flag House Association, founded by Ruthella and Arthur, gained non-profit status in 1931 and remains the steward organization that operates the museum and historic property for Baltimore City.

Mrs. Ruthella Mory Bibbins, 1934

Elizabeth Murray Sewell

Elizabeth Murray Sewell, (1890 – 1977), was the wife of the Flag House’s first curator Arthur Perry Sewell. Because Arthur had been blinded by a chemical attack during World War I, Elizabeth conducted all correspondence and Flag House operations alongside her husband and on his behalf. The couple resided in a third-floor apartment in the Flag House’s attic as late as 1940. Together Arthur and Elizabeth were responsible for the initial preservation of the Flag House, restoring it to its approximate 1813 appearance, and the expansion of the museum’s footprint to include the first museum and office building (1950). After Arthur’s sudden death in October of 1946, Elizabeth continued on as curator until April 1957. During her tenure as curator, Elizabeth secured the donations of significant artifacts, including many furnishings for the Flag House’s early period rooms and objects related to the life of Francis Scott Key. In September 1958, she donated bound copies of curator’s reports dating back to 1927 for the Flag House archive.


Mary Elizabeth Murray marriage to Arthur Perry Sewell, by Rev. J Monroe & Rev. Charles Asbury Smith at the War Memorial Building in Baltimore on Sept. 1, 1928.

Mary-Paulding Martin

Mary-Paulding Martin was Flag House director for 15 years from 1965 until 1980. Born in Virginia on February 8, 1912, she was a 1933 graduate of Sweet Briar College and English teacher at both Garrison Forest School and Notre Dame Preparatory School. Among her many talents as a gardener and neighborhood activist, she was also an avid writer, researching and publishing several pamphlets on the history of the Flag House. It was her work and advocacy as Director that gained the Flag House National Historic Landmark status on December 16, 1969. She was a 46-year resident of Bolton Hill and earned the nickname Mrs. Bolton Hill after being elected the first female president of the Mount Royal Improvement Association. In 1995, she published a book of poetry, Verses from My Marble Steps.

“I didn’t want to come here at all,” Mrs. Martin told The Sun in 1995. “But I fell in love with it, the buildings, the waterfront, the neighborhoods.”

Mary-Paulding Martin died in January 2007 at age 94.


Mrs. Mary-Paulding Martin during “A Short Walk Through History”
program at the Flag House, August 8, 1979.

Anne Homer Martin

Anne Homer Martin was an instrumental donor, volunteer, and member of the Flag House and Baltimore Weaver’s Guild. The Weaver’s Guild completed the 1963-1964 Star-Spangled Banner Flag that was exhibited in the Maryland Pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. She wove examples of the fabric on a loom constructed for this project in the Flag House and continued to give weaving demonstrations to school children in the attic into the late 1960s. Mrs. Martin is also the generous donor of the Prescott Bigelow Pewter Collection, part of the Flag House permanent collection since 1959.


Mrs. Anne Homer Martin sits at the custom loom surround by a flag display in the attic of the Flag House, about 1968.

This post originally appeared as individual posts for the Flag House’s Women’s History Month series in March 2019.

Hand-Painted Silk Fan

“…the fan is either a prude or a coquette, according to the nature of the person who bears it.” – Article from The Queen, 1864

This hand-painted silk and wood fan would have been considered the height of late Victorian fashion. For the Victorian woman, fans were a fashion accessory, of course, but with all things Victorian, they held a much deeper symbolism. Advice columns of the day instructed women to use the fan to indicated their inner character and virtue, giving them an active role in portraying themselves in society and in courtship. There were flutters of anger, modesty, merriment, and romance. Using the language of the fan was a delicate art and meant the difference between being viewed as a flirt or an appropriately modest and passive woman. An article from The Illustrated London News suggests that women use fans to “move the air and cool themselves but also to express their sentiments.” Fans were to be used as the physical and metaphysical extension of a woman’s delicate hand and genteel mind. 

The fan industry in Great Britain, where this fan was made, was also uniquely female. Fans entered into fashionable English society later than continental Europe, taking hold in the fashion industry in the earliest days of the eighteenth century. In 1709, the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers was established and would lead the production of fans and their exposition into the nineteenth century. The delicate task of fan making required a high level of skill to handle the high-end materials like ivory, tortoiseshell, silk, lace, mother of pearl, wood, and bone. Primarily the job of cutting the pieces that assembled a fan was reserved for men until 1859 when machinery replaced the hand-piecing jobs. Women, however, took over the role of designing and painting fans and became the featured exhibitionist during the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers three expositions in 1877, 1889, and 1890. Women took home the highest prizes for their fan designs. During the International Exhibition of 1871, Queen Victoria herself offered a £ 40 prize “for the best fan exhibited by a lady artist or artists.” 

Black silk taffeta fan with hand-painted with floral sprays English, c. 1880 – 1890 Trisler-Pentz Collection of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, FH1930.2.2a

1964 Orioles Home Opener

April 17, 1964, during the Baltimore Orioles’ home opener at Memorial Stadium against the New York Yankees, the Flag House loaned its 30′ x 42′ Star-Spangled Banner replica to be carried onto the field by 22 Marines while “Stars and Stripes Forever” played. The Orioles finished 3rd in the league that year with 97 wins and 65 losses.

Today, March 26, would have been the Orioles’ 2020 home opener against the Yankees. We can’t wait to get back to baseball.

You can view the entire Star-Spangled Banner Replica Project Collection online HERE.

Dr. Benjamin F. Young, July 1769- March 23, 1803

#OnThisDay – March 23, 1803, Dr. Benjamin Young, brother of Mary Pickersgill, dies at the age of 33. #DYK – Mary Pickersgill’s brother, Benjamin Young, was a physician trained by Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence? Dr. Rush taught Benjamin Young in Philadelphia, where he completed his studies at age 19, taking on a position as a doctor in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, becoming one of the first doctors in the county.

To read letters from Dr. Benjamin Rush to Rebecca Young, mother of Mary Pickersgill and Dr. Benjamin Young, you may visit the Flag House’s Colonial Letters Collection on Digital Maryland’s Website https://collections.digitalmaryland.org/…/colle…/fhcl/search

“In life universally beloved – in death universally lamented. The suavity of his temper, the urbanity of his manners, the perfection of his professional skill, and the liberality of his professional assistance have insured to him (what few can aspire to) the lasting regret of all who knew him.” – Obituary of Benjamin Flower Young, Kennedy’s Gazette, 1803

Benjamin Young (1769 – 1803)
c. 1800
James Sharples (ca. 1751–1811)
Pastel on black paper
Collection of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House