Baltimore National Heritage Area moved it’s administrative office to an Authentic Baltimore Neighborhood and building earlier this month.
The history of the mansion at 12 West Madison Street is inseparable from its original builder and owner, John Pendleton Kennedy. Kennedy was an iconic figure in 19th-century Baltimore, with a career that weaved together his passions for politics, writing, law, and business. He was elected to both the Maryland House of Delegates and the U.S. Congress, and served as the first president of the Peabody Institute, president of the Northern Central Railway, and even Secretary of the U.S. Navy.
In February 1859 Kennedy decided to build what would be his final home in the lot located at 12 West Madison Street. After a construction period of a few short months, he, his wife, and sister-in-law moved into the new house in December 1859. In his journal, Kennedy noted “It is to be a first-class dwelling home with every improvement now used in construction… a handsome dining room and a fine library… It is to be in every respect of the best style.”
Kennedy died in 1870, and his wife and sister-in-law continued to live in the house until 1895. In 1897 local businessman Thomas Deford purchased and remodeled the home, including a rear addition. An article from the Baltimore Sun notes that the home contains at least five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a parlor, a library, and a “well-lighted billiard room” on the ground floor.
Twelve West Madison later transitioned to a commercial building, where it housed a variety of interesting institutions including Co-operative Dental Laboratories, the Baltimore Institute (later the University of Baltimore), and the Commission on Afro-American and Indian History and Culture.
In 2013, the partners of 12 West Madison LLC purchased the building and set out to restore the building to reveal the original character and charm crafted by original owner John Pendleton Kennedy. The restoration introduced a contemporary style that makes the building one of the premiere workspaces in Baltimore City. Now called The CO-OP, the building is home to a collection of dynamic and growing organizations committed to improving their communities and the City of Baltimore. The managers of The CO-OP seek to create an atmosphere of collaboration and interactivity that give all its members the chance to create new connections and opportunities every day right within the building. The heritage area is delighted to be part of this cooperative dedicated to building a better Baltimore.
The heritage area thanks Ted Davidsion of SparData for the history of John Pendleton Kennedy and his home at 12 West Madison Street.