Dr. Jacobs is the Jacobs of the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion. The caduceus in the balustrade outside the ballroom is a subtle reminder of him. The lower level bar was once his medical office. Much has been written about Mary Frick Garrett Jacobs, but not nearly as much about Dr. Henry Barton Jacobs. He was Mrs. Garrett’s second husband; Robert Garrett was her first one who died in 1896.
Mary Garrett was the unquestioned leader of Baltimore society. In 1902, she was reputed to be worth a conservative $20 million; certainly many more times the money Dr. Jacobs had. On April 1 that same year, they were married at Grace and St. Peter’s Protestant Episcopal Church on Park Avenue in Baltimore. According to the same Baltimore Sun obituary, an ante-nuptial contract between each relinquished any claim to property of the other, was recorded the day the license was obtained. The contract gave to the contracting parties the right to dispose of the property belonging to them, respective, as if they had not been married. And, furthermore, each agreed not to claim any interest in the estate of the one first dying and not to contest the other’s will. With that tidbit out of the way, from where did he come.
Henry Barton Jacobs was born in 1858 at Hingham, Massachusetts of Mayflower stock having at least seven ancestors who came to America in that famous ship. He graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. degree in 1883. He was graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1887 with an appointment to the staff of Massachusetts General Hospital. While serving in this capacity, he accepted a position as private physician to Robert Garrett, a sickly man, who succeeded his father, John Work Garrett as president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Following Robert’s death in 1896, Dr. Jacobs was appointed Instructor in Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Medical School and in 1901 was promoted to Associate in Medicine.
Although Dr. Jacobs traveled year round with his wife from her Mansion in Mount Vernon, to her villa in Newport, Rhode Island, to her estate, Uplands (near Catonsville), and her apartment in Paris, France, he remained active in medicine and civic and social groups. While in Newport, he was president of the Spouting Rock Beach Association, which controlled Bailey’s Beach and president of the Redwood Library. He was governor of the Newport Casino and a vice-president of the Newport Improvement Association. In Baltimore, he was a member of the Maryland and Baltimore Clubs and Bachelors’ Cotillion. At a glance, he might appear as a pedigreed “animated luggage label” for his wealthy, restless wife–a man who would not, dare not compete with his her. Not so. Dr. Jacobs did give up an active medical practice; however, he made contributions in medicine particularly the study, prevention, and cure of tuberculosis, a leading dread disease at that time. He was a leader in all movements to stamp out the disease.
Before and during his marriage to Mary Frick Garrett, he was a founder of the Maryland Tuberculosis Association, President of the Hospital for Consumptives of Maryland, member of the board of managers of the Maryland State Tuberculosis Sanatorium, secretary of the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, president of the Laënnec Society for the Study of Tuberculosis, and a member of the International Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis. Dr. Jacobs wrote numerous articles for various medical publications and authored American Students of Tuberculosis which was published in 1902. He had 5,000 books on medical subjects in his large library. In 1932, he donated to the Institute of History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, “what he believed to be the world’s only complete collection of the writings of Laënnec”, who laid the foundation for modern knowledge of chest diseases. These works were part of Dr. Jacobs’ collection of medical books, medals, and autographed letters which were included in the gift. Dr. Jacobs had placed stained-glass windows commemorating Laënnec, Jenner, Pasteur, and Osler in the room that housed the collection.
Throughout his life, he was involved with many national, local, civic and municipal improvement associations wherever he lived. Mary’s marriage to him kept her at the acme of society. His charming wife entered wholeheartedly into all his plans.
He has been described as a quiet, intelligent, conservative, beautifully educated man. A History of Baltimore, described him as “positive in his opinions and conclusions, though not dogmatic; farsighted in intellect; genial, cultivated and refined in his tastes, and with a heart filled with sympathy for the sufferings of humanity.”
History of Baltimore, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1912
Hicks, Hugh Francis. Letter. The Baltimore Sun Aug. 30, 1960
Dorsey, John. Mount Vernon Place. Baltimore.: Maclay & Associates, 1983, pages 16-17.
“ Churchman and Social Leader Dies.” The Baltimore Sun 12/19/1939