You are here


-A A +A
1858–1861 conservatory; 1875–1878 library, Edmund G. Lind, J. Crawford Neilson, consulting architect. 1 E. Mount Vernon Pl.
  • (Alexander Heilner)
  • (Alexander Heilner)
  • (Alexander Heilner)
  • (Photograph by Walter Smalling, HALS)
  • (Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith)
  • (Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith)
  • (HABS)
  • (Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie)

A gift to the city from philanthropist George Peabody, the institute that bears his name was built as a cultural center offering a free public library, conservatory of music, art gallery, and lecture hall. It is noteworthy for its Renaissance Revival design and innovative building technology, representing a collaboration between English immigrant architect Lind and Baltimore architect Neilson. One of the first buildings in Baltimore to use structural iron, its stylish facade was paired with structural iron supplied by local manufacturers Bartlett, Robbins and Company, with wrought-iron beams from the Phoenix Iron Company of Pennsylvania and iron roof trusses from the Kellogg Bridge Company of Buffalo. Providing both economy and efficiency of design, the delicate cast- and wrought-iron frame permits grand open spaces and a pleasing environment for the valuable book collection. Referred to as the Cathedral of Books, the spectacular gilded ironwork comprises six stories of alcove book stacks.

Founder George Peabody came from humble beginnings to become an international merchant and financier, eventually amassing a fortune through the dry goods firm known as Riggs, Peabody and Company. He lived in Baltimore for twenty-two years, moving from there to London to better pursue his banking and commercial interests. Peabody was the first of the great philanthropists of the modern era, dedicating his considerable fortune largely towards providing educational opportunities. In addition to the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, he funded similar institutes in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., as well as three museums of science, two state historical societies, and the Peabody Education Fund.


Beirne, Francis F. “Edmund G. Lind.” Baltimore Sun, November 8, 1954.

Dilts, James D., and John Dorsey. A Guide to Baltimore Architecture. 3rd ed. Centreville, MD: Tidewater Publishers, 1997.

Peabody Archives, Peabody Institute.

Price, Virginia. “Peabody Institute,” HABS No. MD-1157, Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, 2004. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Stanton, Phoebe B. “The Peabody Library.” Maryland Historical Magazine 86 (Winter 1991): 423-435.

Writing Credits

Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie



  • 1858

    Conservatory built
  • 1875

    Library built

What's Nearby


Lisa Pfueller Davidson and Catherine C. Lavoie, "PEABODY INSTITUTE", [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, 157-157.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.