Jessie B. Davis Collection - PP24

Collection of finding aids of Photograph Collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Maryland Historical Society Library

ca. 1900-1946 (bulk 1900-1915)

Prints and Photographs Division, Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument St. 
Baltimore, MD 21201

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



Van Buren Davis (1874 or 1875-1952) married Nellie Machen Davis in 1900. Nellie Davis was the daughter of Mary A. (Wells) and Arthur Machen. Van Buren Davis began making photographs prior to his marriage, using a view camera with bellows, black cloth, and glass plates. Mr. Davis printed his own photographs during some periods, but also took the glass plates to a Kodak store in Baltimore to be printed. The Davis family had four children: Grace (b. 1901), Florence, Jessie (b. 1908), and William. Druid Hill Park was a favorite spot for family outings, especially the Arbor.

Collection Origin

Gift of Jessie B. Davis, 1980 (75705).

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 1 box with 72 photoprints which were originally pasted into an album.

Most of the photographs were taken by Van Buren Davis ca. 1900-1915, with a few photographs beyond those dates through 1946. Subjects are people and places in and around Baltimore, including Druid Hill Park and Zoo, Reservoir Hill, views from Prospect Hill, and the ruins of the 1904 Baltimore Fire (especially at Hoen and Co.). There are scenes of family groups and picnics, Christmas tree and garden and rural scenes (probably Cecil County).

There are pictures of a 1906 Elks Convention, for which buildings in downtown Baltimore were lavishly illuminated with electrical lights, including department stores, City Hall, and the Courthouse.

Other subjects include the Garrett Park Methodist Church, and trains and bridges in the Baltimore vicinity.

Note: The collection includes two pamphlets, one documenting damage caused by the 1904 Baltimore Fire, the other commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Garrett Park Methodist Church.


The photographs are arranged by subject with the following headings:

Druid Hill Park.

Baltimore Fire, 1904.

Elks Convention, 1906.

Garrett Park Chapel and Church.


Transportation – Railroads and Bridges.

Other subjects – Davis family, farm, unidentified photographs.

Container List

1 Box

Box 1: 7 Folders

Box 1, Folder 1
Druid Hill Park. 18 items.

PP24.5 – Zoo at Druid Hill Park.

PP24.6 – Arbor in Druid Hill with Davis family (grandmother on bench, mother, children; Jessie is on far right).

PP24.8 – Druid Hill Lake, electric cars in foreground, ca. 1900.

PP24.10 – Street near Druid Hill Park (photo torn).

PP24.11 – Entrance avenue with horse and carriage.

PP24.12 – Mall with bandstand in distance.

PP24.13 – Mansion house.

PP24.14 – Shepherd and dogs, c. 1914.

PP24.19-.20 – Boat house in lake.

PP24.21 – Statue.

PP24.22 – Seals in water (mounted with .21).

PP24.29 – Bandstand.

PP24.30 – Mansion house.

PP24.53 – Houses by reservoir.

PP24.54 – Group of girls in park.

PP24.69-.70 – View from Prospect Hill (Druid Hill Park), looking out over Woodberry.

Box 1, Folder 2
Baltimore Fire, 1904. 12 items.

PP24.4, .33-.39, .50-.52 – Ruins of fire, 1904.

Pamphlet: Souvenir of the Baltimore Fire As Seen Through a Camera (New York: A.B. Benesch Co., 1904).

Box 1, Folder 3
Elks Convention, 1906. 12 items.

PP24.3 – The Sun Building and street decorated for Elk’s Convention, night view with lights.

PP24.57-.67 – Night views with lights decorating buildings and streets.

Box 1, Folder 4
Garrett Park Chapel and Church. c.1900-1946. 5 items.

PP24.1 – Garrett Park Chapel at Monroe and Lexington Sts.

PP24.2 – Garrett Park Methodist Church (replaced the wooden chapel).

PP24.44 – Garrett Park Methodist Church, altar at Easter, 1946.

PP24.68 – Garrett Park Methodist Church Parsonage (faced onto Monroe St.).

Pamphlet: Garrett Park Methodist Church: Golden Anniversary, 1890-1940. Includes church history written by Rev. Lon H. Baughman.

Box 1, Folder 5
Parades. 3 items.

PP24.16 – Flag formed by children in ceremonies when the cruiser Baltimore visited the city, 1899.

PP24.25, .47 – Parade, occasion and location unidentified.

Box 1, Folder 6
Transportation – Railroads and Bridges. 5 items.

PP24.42 – Rural scene with cows in foreground, steam locomotive and train in background.

PP24.45 – Steam locomotive and train.

PP24.46 – Steam locomotive and train crossing bridge.

PP24.49 – Bridge under construction across river.

PP24.55 – Trussel bridge with train crossing.

Box 1, Folder 7
Other subjects – Family, farm, unidentified photographs. 22 items.

PP24.7 – Group of children, unidentified.

PP24.9 – Fire in downtown building with group of spectators.

PP24.15 – Gwynn’s Falls.

PP24.17 – Nellie Davis and daughter Grace on tree stump.

PP24.18 – Mary Machen, minister’s sister, Nellie, Grace, and minister of Garrett Park Church, c. 1901.

PP24.23 – Church group. Front row: Nellie seated on left, Grace fourth from left; grandmother standing second from right, next to women in dark clothes.

PP24.24 – Nellie Davis on rock at Gwynn’s Falls.

PP24.26 – Van Buren Davis and rock at Gwynn’s Falls.

PP24.27 – Mary Machen, Grace and Nellie on Wetheredsville Rd.

PP24.28 – Catherine Machen (Mrs. Arthur Machen, aunt), Nellie, Mary Machen, and a friend eating outdoors on a bench.

PP24.31 – Group at farm (probably in Cecil Co.).

PP24.32 – Farm house with group on porch (probably in Cecil Co.).

PP24.40 – Church group. Front row: Miss. Annie Dietz, Mrs. Hussey, Miss Edna Ohl, grandmother; back row: unknown, Mrs. Pyle, Ullyses S. Wright (minister), Mr. Whitaker.

PP24.41 – Christmas garden made by Van Buren Davis.

PP24.43 – Mary A. and Arthur Machen. Photo by Weitzman.

PP24.48 – Man and boy on mule-drawn wagon (probably at farm in Cecil Co.).

PP24.56 – Group by a lily pond (location and people unidentified).

PP24.71 – Hotel (?) with hydrangea bushes.

PP24.72 – Mine or quarry (?), probably near Gwynn’s Falls.

PP24.73 – William, Jessie, Grace and Florence as children, taken at 1918 W. Franklin St.

PP24.75-.76 – Rowing and picnic on Middle River. Arthur Machen (uncle) and sisters at table. © 2001 Maryland Historical Society - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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