What do a Declaration of Independence signer and the first U.S. born Catholic saint have in common? Their historic Baltimore homes.
Stretching out from the heart of Baltimore to the outskirts of the city, these locations can be visited for free or a small entry fee with hours of history to tour.
Mount Clare Museum House
Woven into the fabric of Maryland history is the Mount Clare Museum House. The state’s first museum house was built in 1760 by Charles Carroll, one of Maryland’s first state senators.
Mount Clare was the centerpiece of a plantation at the time and today the museum presents over 3,000 artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries, allowing a look into plantation life. Seasonal tours are Thursday through Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm.
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and Museum
Why is Mary Pickersgill an integral part of American history? Pickersgill sewed the garrison flag that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen "The Star-Spangled Banner."
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, built in 1793 was once Pickersgill's home and business place. Today, this interactive museum tells her story through the exhibit, “Family of Flagmakers: The Star-Spangled Flag House Women Who Created the Star-Spangled Banner.” Children can design flags and fly them or measure themselves against two-foot stars.
Discover more than 200 years of history at the former residence of Charles Carroll, who lived the longest of the 56 original signers of the Declaration of Independence. Learn how the mansion transitioned from a residence to a saloon, tenement apartments, a sweatshop, vocational school, recreation center and finally a historic site. Take a guided tour Saturday or Sunday from noon to 4 pm.
Mother Seton House
Elizabeth Seton was the first U.S. born canonized saint in the Catholic Church and her three-story house where she established a boarding school for girls is a part of the St. Mary’s Spiritual Center and Historic Site on Baltimore’s Paca Street.
Learn about Mother Seton at the visitor center through exhibits and artifacts and take time to visit the Historic Seminary Chapel. Open seven days a week
Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
While not born in Baltimore, prodigious and groundbreaking writer Edgar Allan Poe claimed Baltimore as his home.
The house at 203 N. Amity Street is where Poe spent two years in the early stages of his career before becoming well known for works like "The Raven," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." Visitors can walk through the house and see artifacts including Poe's writing desk and chair.
Hampton National Historic Site
The 63-acre park and Georgian mansion—the largest house in the U.S. when it was built in 1790—was the homestead of the Ridgely clan until the late 1970s when the National Park Service took over its administration.
Daily, visitors are free to explore the grounds by themselves or take guided mansion tours to discover the history of the property.
Irish Railroad Workers Museum
The museum exhibits living conditions for Irish immigrants who were a presence working on the B&O Railroad in the 1840s.
The museum is made up of two of the five on-site alley houses; one is a furnished period piece and the other has exhibits looking at Irish-American history and neighborhood life. Visit for free, Friday through Sunday.
Evergreen Museum and Library
As part of the Johns Hopkins University Museums, the Evergreen Museum and Library is 48 rooms in a lavish Gilded Age mansion. Inside is a collection of more than 50,000 belongings of the Garrett family, who made their riches in the B&O Railroad. Find items like rare books and decorative arts then tour the lush grounds set on 26 acres. Open Tuesdays through Sundays.
Charles Caroll's former home is also a part of the Johns Hopkins University Museums on the North Charles Street campus. This former residence of Carroll and his family (1802-1833) provides a look at Palladian and Federal architecture. Take a guided tour into the dining room and parlors to discover distinguished Baltimore-period pieces in addition to examples of English, French and Chinese manufactured ceramics. Open Tuesday through Sunday.
The Baltimore City-owned Clifton Mansion—owned by a Baltimore philanthropist Johns Hopkins—is being restored by the Civic Works' community service program and Friends of Clifton Mansion.
Visitors will explore Hopkins' Victorian-era summer villa and find scenic views of the city from the top of the mansion's 80-foot tower in addition to exploring the intricate interiors including a black walnut grand staircase. It is available for guided tours every third Saturday of the month for $5.
The Garrett-Jacobs Mansion is actually four houses converted into one with 40 rooms, 100 windows and 16 fireplaces, now home to the Engineer's Club of Baltimore. The mansion was owned by Mrs. Robert Garrett from the late 1800s until the early 1930s and included a theater, art gallery, elevator and supper room with musician's balcony. To see this unique landmark, call the Engineer's Club to arrange a group tour ($5 a head) or drop in. If no club functions are being held, a docent may be available to lead a tour.
Robert Long House and Colonial Gardens
Discover the authenticity of the Colonial era at the former Fell's Point residence of merchant Robert Long, who bought his parcel of land and built a home in 1765. Make a reservation with The Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fells Point to tour the first floor parlors; the Preservation Society occupies the second floor.
Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
Baltimoreans are passionate about their baseball but just as much or more about their native sons with no better example being Babe Ruth.
The Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum, in the house on Emory Street where Ruth was born, pays homage with exhibits like "Babe Batted Here," with artifacts including his jersey from Baltimore's St. Mary's Industrial School and "The Historic House," displaying his upstairs room.