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H. L. Mencken House

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art ()


In Henry Louis Mencken's words: "I have lived in one house in Baltimore for nearly 45 years. It has changed in that time, as I have - but somehow it still remains the same…. It is as much a part of me as my two hands. If I had to leave it I'd be as certainly crippled as if I lost a leg." He lived here from 1883 until his death in 1956. Mencken worked as a journalist first for the Baltimore Morning Herald, and then for the Baltimore Sun. Known for his acerbic pen, he grew famous for his rebukes of American culture and politics.

The H.L. Mencken House is an Italianate row house. Mencken lived here for most of his life.


Mencken was born in Baltimore in 1880 and lived there his whole life, but this didn't stop him from harshly criticizing the city. On Baltimore's Bromo Seltzer Tower, he declared, 

All Baltimoreans may be divided into two classes-- those who think that the Emerson Tower is beautiful, and those who know better. (1911). 

On the changes occurring in Baltimore during his lifetime, he wrote:

That libido for the ugly which seems to be instinctive in the American people shows itself brilliantly in the sidewalks of Baltimore. Forty years ago they were all of flat paving brick, specially made for that purpose -- they were all at least harmonious with the red brick houses of that time. But the old red bricks are now rapidly giving way to cement and concrete -- glaring when the sun shines, slippery when there is any snow, and hideous all the year 'round. (1927).

In one of his more famous lines, he lambasted Warren Harding and James Cox, candidates for the US Presidency:

As democracy is perfected, the office [of the Presidency] represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. (Baltimore Evening Sun, 26 July 1920).

The house itself is a red brick Italianate row house


“H.L. Mencken House.” Explore Baltimore Heritage. Accessed February 11, 2017.

"H. L. Mencken House." National Park Service. Accessed February 11, 2017. 

Kelly, Jacques. "H.L. Mencken, pioneer journalist." Baltimore Sun, September 18, 2005. Includes Mencken's quotations on Baltimore.

Mencken, H. L. On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe. Edited by Malcolm Moos. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1956. 

Price, G. Jefferson III. "'The White House will be adorned by a downright moron.'" Baltimore Sun, November 25, 2016.

"Writings of H. L. Mencken." C-SPAN. April 07, 2002. Accessed February 11, 2017.

1524 Hollins St.
Baltimore, MD 0
  • Historic Homes
This location was created on 2014-04-01 by Michael Kent .   It was last updated on 2017-02-11 by Amelia Kennedy .

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