Baltimore historian Jamie Hunt is back with a Valentine’s Day-themed tour of romance in Mount Vernon!
For two centuries, Mount Vernon has seen spectacular love stories, bitter feuds, and more than a few juicy trysts. The neighborhood’s earliest days include patriot and original Mount Vernon landowner John Eager Howard marrying a charming young Philadelphian, Margaret “Peggy” Chew, after her first love was hanged for treason in a plot that involved Benedict Arnold. Fast forward 200 years and Mount Vernon saw a 20th century graduate of its Baltimore School for the Arts, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, fall in love with and marry another noted Philadelphian, actor Will Smith.
In between these two sets of lovers are the royal tales of Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, who died wealthy but bitter in Mount Vernon years after an annulled marriage to Napoleon’s brother Jerome, and Bessie Wallis Warfield, who was christened in a neighborhood church (just across the street from where Betsy died) and grew up to become the Duchess of Windsor. Not to be outdone by royalty, some of Baltimore’s most storied authors have ties to Mt. Vernon along with their beautiful, sad marriages, including Edgar Allan Poe, H.L. Mencken, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. And of course the rich and famous of Baltimore’s Gilded Age include more than a few with off-beat love lives.