The Washington Monument
Charles Street, one of the oldest thoroughfares in America, has roots that predate Baltimore itself. Before Europeans settled around the Chesapeake Bay, it is speculated that a Susquehannock Indian trail ran along what is now part of Charles Street. When Baltimore Town was laid out by Maryland’s colonial legislature in 1729, the then-unnamed street passed by the existing farm home of John Fleming, near the present-day Charles and Lombard intersection. Briefly known as Forest (or Forrest), the road was being referred to as Charles Street by at least 1761.
The first house in Baltimore Town was owned by John Fleming and stood at what is now the northeast corner of Charles and Lombard Street, long before Baltimore was a town. In fact, the act of Legislature authorizing the founding of the city to be stated that it should lie “around and about the house occupied by John Fleming.”
Charles Street has always played an important part in the life of the city, but about 200 years ago, an event occurred that stamped its character not only on Baltimore but also on the country and the world. At the time, it was proposed to build the Washington Monument, the first monument erected in memory of the first President of the United States, at Fayette and Calvert Streets. The residents of that area protested vigorously, fearing that the object might be struck by lightning or blown down in a storm and crush their homes. As a result, it was built on its present site on land given by John Eager Howard. Work began in 1815 and the monument was completed in 1824.
Thirty years later, some of the men who had originally opposed the construction of the monument at Calvert Street and their children began to move their homes to Charles Street, and it became the exclusive residential section of Baltimore. The first families of Baltimore have always lived on Charles Street.
For more than 200 years, Charles Street has been changing and growing. Because they love Charles Street, residents, business owners, property owners and merchants of the area have banded together in the Historic Charles Street Association to serve the street. We ensure that it develops along progressive lines and that its character is maintained.