Behind the Scenes Tour of the Baltimore Bar Library

A gem within a gem, the historic Baltimore Bar Library sits on the sixth floor of the historic Clarence Mitchell Jr. Courthouse with its barrel vault ceiling and luxurious oak paneling. Please join us for a tour of this fantastic space with three luminary tour guides: retired chief judge Joseph Kaplan, federal judge and Bar Library historian James Schneider, and Bar Library director Joseph Bennett. If you can’t make it out for the tour, you might enjoy this Legal Historian’s Tour of Baltimore from the Thurgood Marshall Law Library at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Image courtesy the Baltimore Bar Library

Tour Information

Cost:    $15 (includes wine and cheese reception)
Date:     Thursday, February 18, 2010
Time:     5:30 to 6:00 p.m. — Wine and Cheese
6:00 to 7:00 p.m. — Tour
Place:    Baltimore Bar Library, within the Clarence Mitchell Courthouse (map)
Park on the Street
Cost:      $15 (includes wine and cheese reception)

In 1840, a 27 year old Baltimore lawyer named George William Brown took it upon himself to organize a legal library open to the city’s attorneys. The Library Company of the Baltimore Bar, better known as the Bar Library, was born the same year as Mr. Brown and 43 other Baltimore attorneys opened the library in a room at the old courthouse at Calvert and Lexington Streets. (Mr. Brown, it seems, came from a line of innovators: one grandfather was Rev. Patrick Allison, founder of the First and Franklin Church, and another grandfather was Dr. George Brown, a founding member of the first medical society of Baltimore. Both grandfathers were among the men who founded Baltimore’s first circulating library, the Library Company of Baltimore.) The Bar Library is one of the oldest dues-supported libraries in the country and contains cases, treatises and other legal material dating back hundreds of years. It also is occupies a fantastic historic space inside the Clarence Mitchell Jr. Courthouse. The Main Reading Room is 35 feet by 125 feet and is crowned with a barrel vault ceiling. Rich oak wainscot rises fifteen feet around the room, complemented by carved English oak shelves and wall paneling. Please join us for a tour of this wonderful historic space with Joe Bennett, director of the library, the Honorable Joseph Kaplan, retired chief judge of the Baltimore City Circuit Court, and the Honorable James Schneider, a federal bankruptcy judge and author of a history of the Baltimore Bar Library.


Please click here to register. Space is limited on this tour. Confirmations will be sent by email, and payment will be due upon confirmation. For additional information and questions, call Baltimore Heritage at 410-332-9992 or e-mail Johns Hopkins at hopkins at Thank you to PNC Bank and Rohrer Studio, our tour series sponsors. This tour series is made possible in part by a generous contribution from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and the Maryland State Arts Council.

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