Chase Stereoview of the Wildey Monument

This stereoview of the Wildey monument, located on Broadway at Fayette Street, was originally published by William M. Chase. There is an additional blind embossed imprint on the left-hand edge of the card that reads “G. W. Thorne 60 Nassau Street New York.”

According to The Monumental City, the monument was dedicated to the founder of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Thomas Wildey, on 26 April 1865.

The movement to build a monument to Wildey was organized after his death in 1861. American lodges raised about $18,000 to design and build the monument, and the City of Baltimore donated the ground for its erection.

The spot on N. Broadway was chosen because it was close to the location where Wildey founded the I.O.O.F. in 1819, the Seven Stars Tavern. Its doric column, says Baltimore historian Thomas Scharf, “is surmounted by a life-sized figure of charity protecting the orphans” (History of Baltimore City and County, pp. 269-270).

Engravings often include a representation of the Washington Medical College of Baltimore,  later purchased by the Presbyterian Church and renamed the Church Home and Hospital.

While the Church Home and Hospital is not visible in this photograph, of architectural interest is the two-story, two-bay Federal style house, ca. 1790-1835, behind and to the left of the monument. The house appears to be made of wood and faced with brick with a shop attached. Wood structures were outlawed in Baltimore in 1799, but enforcement was lax.

If the view is looking northwest, the cupola glimpsed on the horizon to the left of this old house might be the old Baltimore City Jail on East Madison Street, on the edge of Jones Falls. Another possibility is the cupola of the old Baltimore courthouse at Calvert and Lexington streets, farther west, which was torn down in 1895 to make way for a massive new Beaux-Arts structure; a third, if the view looks southwest: the Baltimore Merchants’ Exchange, Gay Street between Lombard and Water, whose “high dome . . . dominated the southeastern quarter of the city until its demolition in 1901-1902” (The Architecture of Baltimore: An Illustrated History, p. 78).

Two structures to the right of the monument might be what were called “half” houses, but I don’t know enough about Baltimore’s architecture to be sure. Ideas?

More about the Wildey Monument on the Monument City blog.

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