In order to appreciate this Mansion, one should try to imagine that we are back into the latter half of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries when the merchant princes of the day lavished untold wealth on building homes which they considered suitable for living and entertaining.
Number 11, the expansion and remodeling of which took 32 years and incorporated Numbers 9, 7, and the rear of 13, is the grandest of these townhouses in Baltimore. It was the largest, encompassing 4 earlier houses made into one with approximately 40 rooms, 100 windows, and 16 fireplaces; the most luxurious, it contained a theater, an art gallery of fine paintings, one of the handsomest conservatories in a private home in this country; a compartmentalized elevator and an elegant supper room with a musician’s balcony. The Mansion is the finest legacy of Baltimore’s Golden Age.
The Mansion’s owner, Mrs. Robert Garrett, who later became Mrs. Henry Barton Jacobs after the death of Mr. Garrett in 1896, was the social arbiter of Baltimore for many years and entertained in a truly regal manner, said to have been unequalled by any Baltimore hostess, and comparable with those in New York and Newport, R.I. It should not be forgotten, however, that she was a very philanthropic woman, and left the greater part of her fortune to charity particularly for the medical care of children. She, herself, was childless.
Following her death in 1936, the Mansion was willed to Dr. Jacobs for life. After his death in 1939, the Mansion had several owners until 1961, when The Engineer’s Club leased the building from the city, which had planned to destroy the building as part of an urban renewal and expansion project for the Walters Art Gallery. In 1962, the Club purchased it outright and began a dedicated effort to preserve and maintain the historic structure. In 1971, the Mansion’s significance was officially recognized by the Maryland Historic Trust. The Garrett-Jacobs Mansion is a contributing structure to the Mount Vernon Historic District, a national historic landmark. In 1992, a charitable 501(c)(3) foundation was established to ensure the future of this unique landmark.