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“As much a part of me as my own two hands,” is how Henry Louis Mencken described his house at 1524 Hollins Street and his personality can be seen in everything from the parquet floors to the garden tiles. In 1880, Mencken was brought by his parents as an infant to the house and lived there until his death at the age of 75.
Much of Mencken’s writing, reading and thinking was done in the second floor front study, with its view of Union Square and the surrounding neighborhood. It was here where Mencken’s “councils of war” were held over various government actions to suppress books and where Mencken convinced the famous lawyer Clarence Darrow to defend John Scopes in the Scopes Monkey Trial. It was also in this room where Mencken wrote the newspaper columns and books that made him, in the words of journalist Walter Lippmann, “the most powerful personal influence” in America.
The house was a central feature of the former City Life Museums, and since its closing in 1997, the Friends of the H.L. Mencken House have cared for the building.
Cover photo: Eli Pousson / Baltimore Heritage.