Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company of Baltimore Collection - PP9

Maryland Historical Society
Photograph Collection Inventory List
Special Collections Department
201 West Monument Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
410-685-3750 x359; [email protected]


ca. 1900-1979


Finding aid created by Katherine Cowan with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, July 1999

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The Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company of Baltimore, known as "the oldest civic organization in the United States", was established in 1763 to protect life and property in the city of Baltimore which had about 2000 residents at the time. At its origin, the company "discharged nearly all the duties needed for the government of the town, its policing, magisterial functions, etc, and in addition, acted as firemen," according to company historian George W. McCreary. The company appointed the first sheriff and town commission, started the first school, built the first flour mill and the first hospital, and the first city council contained many company members. Members sometimes served as a unit in military operations, especially during the British attack on Baltimore in 1814. The organization served as volunteer firefighters until 1859, at which point Baltimore established a paid fire department and the Company turned over its equipment to the City. Since that time, the organization has engaged in mainly charitable and civic activities, as well as holding an annual banquet for members. They have made monetary donations to charities such as the Boys Home, and civic activities have included the erecting of monuments in the city and vicinity, and improvement and maintenance of local sites like the Baltimore Cemetery. 

At points in its history, The Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company has counted among its members many prominent and illustrious Baltimore citizens, as evidenced by the large number of city streets named for members: Stiles, Plowman, Aisquith, Holliday, McClellan, Hollingsworth, Mercer, Uhler’s Alley, Carey, Carroll, Covington, Edmonson, Gittings, Grundy, Hollins, Hillen, Lovegrove, McKim, McHenry, McMechen, Mosher, Oliver, Towson, Tyson, etc. Membership in the organization was traditionally through family ties, although in the 1960s this arrangement changed to accept members considered to be influential citizens.

Note: Information on the Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company can be found in the Maryland Historical Society Library, in the vertical file and in The Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company, Baltimore by George W. McCreary (Baltimore, Kohn and Pollock, 1901).

Collection Origin

Gift of Carroll J. Hennick, 1979 (75075), and of Jean Hofmeister, 1980 (75116). 

Scope and Contents

The collection is housed in one box, containing 11 photoprints from disparate eras, ca. 1900-1979, all presumably depicting members of the organization. Some are captioned with dates and subjects identified.

Note: The collection includes several folders of memorabilia such as banquet programs and ribbons worn by members.


The photographs are arranged in four folders by subject.

Container List (1 Box)

Box 1: 4 Folders

Folder 1

Star Spangled Banner Industrial Parade, 1914 (Baltimore, Md). Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company float, with member group portrait; people are identified. 3 items (1 image).

Folder 2

Group portrait posed in front of east side of Baltimore City Hall; people wearing fire-fighting outfits, flanking fire-engine, ca. 1900; people not identified (may be Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company). 1 item.

Folder 3

Group portraits from annual banquets. 184th Banquet (1947): Dr. John C. Krantz, Jr., Hamilton A. Hooper, and unidentified person. 195th Banquet (1958): Cumberland Dugan, Hyman Pressman, B. Frank Cromwell, and Judge Joseph Allen. 2 items.

Folder 4

"The Affair of the Chafing Dish". Unidentified man acts out theft of chafing dish and resulting imprisonment. 2 items (5 photoprints attached to 2 boards).