We are naturally roused to our feet every time we hear the proud strains of our country’s National Anthem, Francis Scott Key’s wartime poem dedicated to the “Star Spangled Banner,” the 30-feet by 42-feet flag that soared above Fort McHenry and withstood a massive deluge of musket and cannon fire during the American-British War of 1812.
The 15-star, 15-stripe beauty of legend was expertly sewn by Mary Pickersgill in one of Baltimore’s oldest standing residences, now called the Flag House and open to visitors in love with U.S. history. For an enthralling submersion into Revolutionary-era America, a visit to the excellently restored house is as inspiring as that first second that we hear “O say, can you see.”
The house was built in 1793 when Baltimore experienced its first boom and currently displays much of its original furniture and details, which are strikingly beautiful in their craftsmanship. Visitors can easily put themselves in Pickersgill’s shoes, designing the flag, dyeing the silks, and sewing furiously in patriotic spirit while a battle with Britain rages behind the walls.
In addition, one can view first-hand documents that evoke the period and tell the creation and preservation story of the Star Spangled Banner, which is currently housed in The National Museum of American History, as well as the brave, noteworthy woman who crafted it. The museum is devoted to recalling and preserving this time in our history for both kids and adults to enjoy. At KidsTown, little ones can put on period costumes and try making their own flags, among other fun that makes us parents shutter-happy.
Temporary exhibitions also come to the Flag House, which is currently host to Joyce Howell’s triumphant Spirit of America paintings which were inspired by the song “America the Beautiful” and make great use of the stars and stripes in her celebrations of U.S. traditions, holidays and daily life. Live music and holiday hooplas are in abundance too, so watch out come Flag Day and July 4th, which might be the best time to visit.
We adore Baltimore. This charming city has a lot to offer for history buffs and modern travelers alike. We enjoy having a bite at next-door Sabatino’s, one of Little Italy’s best for authentic eats, or in the East Harbor at The Charleston for creative seafood and a huge wine selection, especially when the weather’s sunny. The Charleston is a winner of four stars from Mobil and Chef Cindy Wolf is a James Beard Award nominee. Stay at The Admiral Fell Inn to preserve the sense of history you developed at the Flag House. It is rustic yet elegant, with a pub that hosts rowdy but friendly singalongs of old patriotic shanties.
The Flag House is a historical attraction that will give even deeper meaning to the times you rise to your feet and cover your heart, teaching the full story of the Star Spangled Banner, the National Anthem and our country’s infancy and independence.
The Flag House, 844 E. Pratt St. Baltimore, MD (410) 837-1793 www.flaghouse.org
The Admiral Fell Inn, 888 South Broadway, Baltimore, MD (410) 522-7380