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A walking “tour d’amour” in Mount Vernon, Sunday

Gorgeous buildings, plus ripe old love stories, bitter feuds and juicy trysts.

mount vernon place peace

Baltimore’s Mount Vernon, a nice place in Baltimore to stroll with your beloved.

Photo by: Fern Shen

If you’re looking for something to love about the city on Valentine’s Day weekend – check out this romance-themed tour of Mount Vernon taking place on Sunday, organized by Baltimore Heritage.

It’s their 16th annual “Mount Vernon Love Stories Historic Valentine’s Day Walking Tour” of “Baltimore’s most romantic neighborhood,” led by historian – and frequent Brew commenter! – James Hunt.

The tour starts with a look inside Ambassador Theodore Marburg’s mansion at 14 West Mount Vernon Place, which Agora Publishing has wonderfully restored.

Go to this link to sign up for  either of two tours, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.. Admission is $15 per person.

Here’s how Baltimore Heritage blurbs the sort of sights you’ll see and the romance-themed tales your guide will tell.

For two centuries, Mount Vernon has seen spectacular love stories, bitter feuds, and more than a few juicy trysts. The neighborhood’s earliest days include patriot and original Mount Vernon landowner John Eager Howard marrying a charming young Philadelphian, Margaret “Peggy” Chew, after her first love was hanged for treason in a plot that involved Benedict Arnold. Fast forward 200 years and Mount Vernon saw a 20th century graduate of its Baltimore School for the Arts, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, fall in love with and marry another noted Philadelphian, actor Will Smith.

In between these two sets of lovers are the royal tales of Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, who died wealthy but bitter in Mount Vernon years after an annulled marriage to Napoleon’s brother Jerome, and Bessie Wallis Warfield, who was christened in a neighborhood church (just across the street from where Betsy died) and grew up to become the Duchess of Windsor. Not to be outdone by royalty, some of Baltimore’s most storied authors have ties to Mt. Vernon along with their beautiful, sad marriages, including Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. And of course the rich and famous of Baltimore’s Gilded Age include more than a few with off-beat love lives. Please join us and historian Jamie Hunt as we uncover historic loves won and lost in Baltimore’s great Mt. Vernon neighborhood. The tour will start with a look inside Ambassador Theodore Marburg’s mansion at 14 West Mount Vernon Place, which Agora Publishing has wonderfully restored.

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  • ushanellore

    Wow! I’d love to go to this one but it may cancelled due to snow, no? I’ve strolled there with my beloved many a time. I love the hills and the inclines, the Washington Monument, the restaurants and way off the Charles Theater. Pinkett may be divorcing Smith say the tattling tabloids. The Duchess of Windsor is not my favorite. She was a thoroughly boring Millie, a sister to Camilla Parker Bowles, pathetically plain, not nearly as dowdy as the pedestrian Camilla, and a royal pain in the rear to the outmoded royal pain in the rear British monarchy. How did these guys get to be so ugly? Princess Diana did them a favor by diluting their genes with her looks.

    • James Hunt

      Tour’s always on, rain, snow or shine. However, I’ll confer with the Baltimore Heritage folks (who are taking a well deserved break today) to see if they’re okay with adding a second date on a future weekend for those unable to make it due to the weather on Sunday.

      FWIW, the Duchess of Windsor, like Cleopatra, was not a natural beauty but she had, shall we say, a _way_ some men (including her two husbands before Edward) found irresistible. Now, Betsy Patterson Bonaparte … there was a beauty. Bonus fact that may or may not be mentioned on the tour: the house where she died in 1879 (across the street from where Wallis was christened 17 years later) was demolished and replaced with a medical office building where Al Capone sought treatment from Dr. Joseph E. Moore for syphillis in 1939. The expression back then was, “A night in the arms of Venus; a lifetime in the hands of Mercury” (the pre-penicillin prescription for that insidious disease).

      Moral: be careful, kids, even (or especially) on Valentine’s Day.

      • ushanellore

        That’s what I call info with fizz. History is no more than gossip. What will humans do without gossip?

  • Lizzie 58

    Mt. Vernon and Midtown are truly gems in Baltimore. It is great to see these areas on and around Charles Street work their way back to being a vibrant neighborhood. I hope that it can be accomplished similar to what is happening in Remington–small scale development, with emphasis on housing and home ownership.

    • Andrew

      I agree. It’s time to move the Book Festival, Flowermart and Pride to another, underserved neighborhood that needs the foot traffic and economic stimulus.

      • James Hunt

        The First Thursday concerts are moving to Canton Waterfront Park this spring, so the exodus may be underway.

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