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1815–1829, Robert Mills. 699 N. Charles St.
  • (Photograph by Walter Smalling, HALS)
  • (Photograph by Walter Smalling, HALS)
  • (Photograph by Renee Bieretz, HALS)
  • (Photograph by Renee Bieretz, HALS)
  • (HABS)

This massive Doric column was the first significant monument in America and the first in memory of Revolutionary War hero and first president George Washington, one of the most revered and memorialized personages in American history. While the U.S. Congress advocated for a monument before his passing, it was not until 1848 that the obelisk in Washington was begun. The task was instead undertaken first by the citizens of Baltimore. The column contains a stair to a viewing platform crowned by a statue of General Washington to obtain a height of 178 feet. It is mounted on a tall stone plinth where a gallery displays Washington memorabilia. The monument is built of locally quarried stone by Baltimore contractors Towson and Steuart, and the statue was created by Italian sculptor Enrico Causici.

Robert Mills capitalized upon his status as the nation’s first native-born and -trained architect to secure the commission, yet his design is evocative of European models—most notably, Roman emperor Trajan’s Column (113 CE) in Rome and the Vendôme Column (1810) in Paris. Concurrent with the Battle Monument, the two earned Baltimore the title of Monumental City and sparked a rash of monument and statuary building that lasted for over a century. The statue depicts Washington with his outstretched hand presenting the scrolled document resigning his military commission, an event that occurred in the State House in Annapolis, hence Maryland’s greatest claim to historical events surrounding the nation’s first president.


Bryan, John M. America’s First Architect, Robert Mills. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.

Lavoie, Catherine C., “Washington Memorial, Mount Vernon Place,” HABS No. MD-7, Historic American Buildings Survey, 2005. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

“Designs for a Monument Proposed to be erected in the City of Baltimore To the Memory of General George Washington submitted to the honorable Board of Managers by Robert Mills of South Carolina, Architect, Philadelphia, 1814,” Maryland Historical Society, MS 876, Box 3, Washington Monument.

Miller, J. Jefferson, II. “Baltimore’s Washington Monument.” Master’s thesis, University of Delaware, March 1962.

Mills Papers, 1820-1835, Maryland Historical Society, Manuscript Collection.

Writing Credits

Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie



  • 1815

  • 1829


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Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie, "WASHINGTON MONUMENT (Baltimore)", [Baltimore, Maryland], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Maryland, Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2022, 153-154.

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