The Flag House and Star Spangled Banner Museum
Baltimore, United States
During the British invasion of Baltimore during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key saw the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry after an all night bombardment. The sight of the flag at dawn’s early light inspired him to write a poem that would become the country's National Anthem.
The flag that would inspire Key had its humble beginnings at the home of Mary Pickersgill. Fortt McHenry’s commandant Major George Armistead requested a flag “so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.” Pickersgill and her daughters sewed a 30 by 42 foot flag with 15 stars and 15 alternating red and white stripes. The flag was so large, Pickersgill had to unfold it in a nearby tavern as her home was too small.
The home, part of Baltimore’s Star Spangled Banner Trail, dates back to 1793. Today, visitors are greeted by reenactors who regale the audience with stories of life during the nation’s earliest days of independence. Most of the furnishings in the home are original to the Pickersgill family. Of special interest is the receipt for $405.90, the amount Mary received for her work.
The original flag is now under a climate controlled environment at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. To honor the Star Spangled Banner, the museum constructed the Great Flag Window, a glass flag in the same dimensions and design of the original Star Spangled Banner.
There is limited on street parking in this residential area. If you cannot find a spot, there is a parking garage on the other side of Pratt Street.
The MTA 7, 10 and 30 buses leave Inner Harbor and stop within a few steps of the Flag House.
The Baltimore Metro Subway stops at Shot Tower, two blocks north of the museum.
Though outside of Inner Harbor, the walk to the Flag House is about four blocks east of the Aquarium along Pratt Street.