Early History of Patterson Park

Commemorating Victory At Hampstead Hill

After the War, Laudenslager’s tavern and butcher’s shop resumed its normal operations as a meeting place for travelers and a slaughter house. The defensive earthworks remained and were an attraction for visitors who could tour the site before enjoying a meal at the tavern. In fact, Susan Laudenslager renamed her family's establishment “Fort Defiance Hotel” and took out advertisements in 1824 to encourage War tourism visitors. Mrs. Laudenslager stopped running the tavern in 1827 or 1828, shortly after William Patterson gifted the land to Baltimore for use as a war memorial.

“[The tavern is] interesting alike to seaman and soldier, and calculated to awaken in the minds of all the pleasing recollection of the glorious and successful resistance made by Fort McHenry… and many who shared in the toils and privations of that interesting period will also recollect the efforts made by the proprietor [Susan Laudenslager] and her late husband to contribute to the comfort and accommodation [of the troops]&rdquo

—Baltimore Patriot, May 1, 1824
William Patterson, 1752-1835 [Portrait]

William Patterson, 1821. Maryland Historical Society.

Creating A Public Park

William Patterson donated his land in January 1827 to the City of Baltimore to turn the area into a public park, or “walk” as it was then called. The City accepted the land offer in April of that year, and the park was created as a rectangular area between Lombard and Pratt Street, including the main area of Hampstead Hill. From the time the land was transferred until the official opening of Patterson Park, the walk served as a memorial to the Battle of Baltimore. Patterson Park officially opened and received its name in July 1853. Festivities celebrating the opening included fireworks and a band.

In 1860, Baltimore City added an additional 29.21 acres to the park, just before it was called into service for another war effort.

Map and directory of Camp Patterson Park [Baltimore, Maryland] One Hundred and Tenth Regiment of New York Volunteers. Col. D. C. Littlejohn, commanding

Map and directory of Camp Patterson Park, 1862. Library of Congress.

The Civil War in Patterson Park

In early 1861, Union troops set up camp in Patterson Park. The camp was designated “Camp Washburn” and it served as both camp and a hospital throughout the Civil War. Demolished in 1866, the part of the camp on Hampstead Hill housed officer’s quarters and cooking facilities. The drainage in the park was also improved during the war and a fence was constructed to keep livestock out. The marble fountain, still in the park, was constructed in 1865 during the period of troop occupation


Project signage at the Friends of the Patterson Park offices

The White House (built 1869) is now the Friends of Patterson Park offices.

After the Civil War

After the Civil War, the park resumed its recreational functions. The Superintendent's House (now commonly called the “White House” along Patterson Park Avenue) was constructed in 1866 and the Lombard Street gate and entranceway were added in 1869. At this point, sketches show above-ground elements of the 1812 defenses were still preserved and visible. Patterson Park saw further expansion and improvement in 1873 when it was brought to 56 acres in size and curvilinear paths and walkways were constructed, along with a conservatory and concession stands.

An expansion in 1883 doubled the size of the park, bringing it to 112.4 acres. This expansion was also when Harris Creek, which ran through the eastern edge of the park, was put into conduits underground to control flooding. In 1891, the city built one of the park’s most iconic structures, the Patterson Park Pagoda, on Hampstead Hill.

Early History of Patterson Park