Union Square Association in Baltimore Replacing Monument Dedicated to Mencken

Melody Simmons, Dolan, February 21, 2012

Union Square activists are at odds over the removal of a fountain dedicated to H.L. Mencken in the historic park—and some are chafing because the $8,000 replacement, bought with funds from the neighborhood’s annual Christmas cookie tour, will not be rededicated to the stogie-chomping critic who lived in a rowhouse facing the square.

“Time moves on,” Chris Taylor, president of the Union Square Association, said of the decision not to rededicate the new waterworks in Mencken’s name. “It’s not like we’re taking away from anything in the past, it’s just time moves on.”

The Mencken fountain was taken down in January, said Brad Housley, a foreman with Allied Contractors, the local company hired by the city Department of Recreation and Parks for the $437,400 project, which includes other renovations. The park is overseen by the Maryland Historical Trust, which holds an easement over the entire square.

“The old one was getting rough,” Housley said, of the metal and resin fountain flanked by nearly three dozen bronze plates illustrating the covers of books written by the Sage of Baltimore over his career as a journalist, magazine editor, author and critic. “It was just old.”

The Mencken fountain was put up after a Victorian-style fountain placed in the square in the 1850s was removed during World War II and, legend has it, scrapped for metal, said J. Rodney Little, director of the Maryland Historical Trust.

It was designed and purchased with proceeds from the sale of the decorative book plates and was dedicated to Mencken in 1971 during a ceremony that drew local residents, historians and then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer, said JoeAnne Whitely, a former Union Square resident who spearheaded the fundraising and memorial tribute.


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  • Liberals used to love Mencken and (native St. Louisan) T.S. Eliot.  Now, if you listen to today’s libs, neither one of them ever existed.  A few years ago, Eliot’s final American home before he moved to England for good, in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, went on the market.  There wasn’t a peep about it in the local media, in fact, the only way I know about it is that the Conservative Heritage Times blog (which cross-posts a lot with the League of the South Rebellion Blog) had a post about it.

  • Oil Can Harry

    This decision by Baltimore’s political class, and the lack of outrage from the public, bring to mind several Mencken quotes:

    Democracy is the worship of jackals by jackasses

    No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people

    Every decent man is ashamed of the gov’t he lives under

    Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage

  • shmo123

    41 years is too “old”? C’mon, what’s with that?

  • T_A_C

    What a shame.  H.L. Mencken is a GIANT of American culture.  Why is Baltimore not proud to honor him?

  • R P

    “It’s not like we’re taking away from anything in the past, it’s just time moves on.”

    He says it like it a good thing to forget the past. There could in his life be a time where Past remembers him and his war against it. 

  • Christopher Petty

    However, living in Rome for several years, the fountains are not constantly being vandalized like they are in a rough area of the city surrounding Union Square. And, although the fountains may look old, many of the fountains in and around Rome are not that old (for example,Bernini’s fountains in Piazza Navona and de Populi) sorry bout the spelling…