The Francis Scott Key Monument was added to Eutaw Place in 1911
The Francis Scott Key Monument by the French sculptor Jean Marius Antonin Mercie stands on Eutaw Place at Lanvale Street. Dating to 1911, the monument is a fountain composed of a sculptural tableau of bronze and marble within a granite-walled basin. The bronze figure of the poet Key stands in a marble boat with a seated bronze sailor, as they return from the British ship on which Key had been held during the bombardment of Ft. McHenry. The figure of Key presents his manuscript to the bronze figure of Columbia, who stands, flag upraised, high atop the stepped roof of a marble temple which rises from the center of the pool. Square in plan and with four Doric columns, the temple shelters a circular marble basin.
The Francis Scott Key Monument is significant for its commemoration of the writing of what would become the national anthem by Francis Scott Key after the defense of the City of Baltimore by Marylanders on September 12, 1814. It is a work of one of the leading sculptors of the Nineteenth Century French School, Jean Marius Antonin Mercie. The monument also represents the response of the Bolton Hill neighborhood to the City Beautiful movement.
The inscription below the temple is lettered on bronze tablets on the east and west sides depicting scenes from Ft. McHenry. On the south side is the incised inscription:
FRANCIS SCOTT KEY
On the base below the die on the same side is carved:
PRESENTED TO THE CITY OF BALTIMORE BY
CHARLES L. MARBURG
Francis Scott Key Memorial
According to William Sener Rusk, the bronze figures were originally gilded. Since 1984 the bronze components of the monument have been washed and maintained with wax by the City of Baltimore. The marble exhibits copper staining below the bronze elements and gypsum crusts on the protected areas beneath the entablature and cornice. The local group, Friends of the Francis Scott Key Monument, has had lighting reinstalled and is seeking funds for repair of the fountain.
Rededication of the Key Monument
Lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key (1779-1843) had been detained on a cartel ship after attempting to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes, a physician from Upper Marlboro, who had been arrested by the British. From the ship, Key watched the bombardment at Ft. McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore and wrote verses on the back of a letter to the music of "To Anacreon in Heaven," later to become the national anthem.
At the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, Jean Marius Antonin Mercie studied with and continued the style of Jean Alexandre Joseph Falguiere; they collaborated on the Lafayette Monument in Washington, DC (1891). Mercie taught a number of American sculptors at the Academie Julian, including Daniel Chester French, Olin Levi Warner, John Gutzon Borglum and Frederic Wellington Ruckstuhl, sculptor of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Mount Royal Avenue (1903).
The Key Monument was a gift of Charles L. Marburg, head of the Marburg Brothers tobacco firm. Marburg, who died in 1907, established the Municipal Art Society in 1896, and believed that monuments were a way to achieve the "City Beautiful." A result of the Beaux-Arts ideal made popular after the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition of 1892-93, the City Beautiful Movement sought to improve urban areas by integrating parks, monuments and sculpture with public and private buildings. The monument is prominently sited on a major avenue into the Bolton Hill neighborhood, a National Register Historic District.