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Enoch Pratt

Enoch Pratt
Born (1808-09-10)September 10, 1808
Middleborough, Massachusetts, US
Died September 17, 1896(1896-09-17) (aged 88)
Baltimore, Maryland, US
Resting place Green Mount Cemetery, Greenmount and East North Avenues, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
Occupation Business magnate, Philanthropist
Net worth $2.5 million[1]
Religion Unitarian[1]
Spouse(s) Maria Louisa Hyde

Enoch Pratt (September 10, 1808 — September 17, 1896-[2]) was an American businessman in Baltimore, Maryland. Pratt was also a committed active Unitarian, and a philanthropist. He is best known for his donations to establish the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and expanding the former Sheppard Asylum to become The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, (now known as the Sheppard-Pratt Hospital for mental health and psychiatric research), located north of the city in western Towson, county seat of Baltimore County. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he moved south to the Chesapeake Bay area and became devoted to the civic interests of the city of Baltimore. He earned his fortune as an owner of business interests beginning in the 1830s originally as a hardware wholesaler, and later expanding into railroads, banking and finance, iron works, and steamship lines and other transportation companies.


  • Early life 1
  • Business career 2
  • Philanthropy 3
    • Enoch Pratt Free Library 3.1
    • Sheppard Asylum 3.2
  • Maryland Historical Society 4
  • Legacy 5
  • References 6

Early life

Born in Middleborough, Massachusetts, Enoch Pratt was the second of eight children born to Isaac and Naomi (née Keith) Pratt.[2] A successful businessman, Isaac Pratt managed several businesses, including a sawmill, general store, wholesale hardware.[1] The young Enoch was educated at the former Bridgewater Academy in the neighboring town of Bridgewater, Massachusetts's Town Common.[2] After graduating, at the age of 15, Enoch Pratt began his first job in business as a clerk in a Boston hardware.[1][2]

In 1831, Pratt moved to Baltimore with $150 to launch his own wholesale iron hardware business, Enoch Pratt & Brothers at 23-25 South Charles Street, between East Baltimore and German (now Redwood) Streets.[3] The business proved successful, and six years later, Pratt married Maria Louisa Hyde (1818–1913), the daughter of Samuel G. and Catherine Hyde, whom he met at his church on August 1, 1837.[2][4] Their marriage was happy, but they were unable to have children.[1]

Business career

With his successful hardware business, Pratt became involved in other businesses as vice president of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad, who built their southern terminal in 1849-1850 at the President Street Station, at President and Fleet Streets, east of the harbor "basin" (today's "Inner Harbor"). He also served as president of the National Farmers’ and Planters’ Bank of Baltimore, and was the controlling stockholder in the Maryland Steamboat Company.[1] In 1851, Pratt and his partner invested in western Maryland coal mines and iron yards in the expanding and developing industrial and commercial Baltimore neighborhood of Canton. They made their own merchandise, thereby ending their dependence on northern manufacturers. From 1860 until his death in 1896, he was the president of the National Farmers' and Planters' Bank of Baltimore. Pratt also became president of the Baltimore Clearing House and the Maryland Bankers' Association, in addition to establishing a role in several transportation companies. He was also a director for three other railroads, including the famous Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He was a contemporary and associate of philanthropist Thomas Kelso, (1784-1878), founder and endower of the Kelso Home and Orphan Asylum originally established by his home at No. 87 East Baltimore Street and opened January 1, 1874, who also endowed many local charities associated with the national denomination and the local Baltimore Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They served together on the board of the P.W. & B. Railroad Company.[5]


During his early years as a businessman, Pratt's philanthropy started with donations to his church, the Druid Hill Park, acquired by the city in 1860.[1]

Pratt gave much of his time and wealth to Baltimore’s cultural and charitable institutions. He served as a trustee of the

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Barbic, Kari. "Enoch Pratt". The Philanthropy Roundtable. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Rossiter, and John Howard Brown (1904). "Section 5: Pratt". The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans 8. The Biographical Society. 
  3. ^ "Who is Enoch Pratt?". Enoch Pratt Free Library. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  4. ^ Browne, William Hand, and Louis Henry Dielman, ed. (1955). Maryland Historical Magazine 50. Maryland Historical Society. p. 327. 
  5. ^ American railroad journal - Volume 27, J.H. Schultz, 1854, pg. 62
  6. ^ The Philanthropy Hall of Fame, Enoch Pratt
  7. ^ "History of Our Church and Organs". History. First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. 2008-07-22. 
  8. ^ History of the Library – Enoch Pratt Free Library.
  9. ^ "Maryland Historical Trust". Tivoli, Baltimore City. Maryland Historical Trust. 2008-11-21. 


Famous Scottish-born steel industrialist, millionaire and later noted philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, (1835-1919), said when he began his philanthropy of millions of dollars in the late 19th and early 20th Century giving away his fortune especially to build hundreds of public library buildings throughout the United States, if the local town, city or county governments would promise to give them an annual budget and continue to support them, said that "Pratt was my guide and inspiration" remembering the time of several days that he spent in Baltimore at Mr. Pratt's house on West Monument Street, touring the new Free Library and conversing with Mr. Pratt and his employees and even the citizens/patrons about their mutual ideas during his visit in March 1890.


Enoch Pratt's city townhouse/mansion located at 201 West Monument Street, at the southwest corner with Park Avenue in Mount Vernon-Belvedere which he purchased in 1847, has served as the home of the Maryland Historical Society (founded 1844) since 1919, when it moved from the old "Athenaeum" building, (the second to bear the name) at the northwest corner of St. Paul Street and East Saratoga Street, across from and down the hill from Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church on North Charles Street. The Athenaeum, which the Society had occupied since 1850, also briefly held the collections of the old subscription/membership societies, the Library Company of Baltimore from the 1790s and the Mercantile Library Association, from 1839 of which their libraries were merged with the Society's in 1856. Later facing the first "urban renewal plan" of downtown Baltimore when five square blocks along St. Paul Street and Place between East Centre Street in the north and East Lexington Street to the south, were razed of their townhouse rows from the 1820s and 30's and the "Preston Gardens" were landscaped in terraces along the former old parallel Courtland and St. Paul Streets.It later briefly served as the city office for the "new-fangled" gasoline-powered horseless carriages, the old state Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, founded 1910, (today's state Motor Vehicle Administration of the Maryland Department of Transportation), then unfortunately was razed for a parking garage after World War I. Today the site is occupied by a glass skyscraper from the mid-1950s for the Commercial Credit Corporation. It was an important cultural and literary site of Baltimore as the previous place before Cathedral and West Mulberry Streets where citizens went to get books or do research for seventy years. The Pratt mansion was occupied by his wife until her death. The West Monument Street townhouse/mansion was then gifted to the Historical Society by Mary Washington Keyser, whose husband was a longtime Md.H.S. member.

Maryland Historical Society

His death in 1896 at his summer residence "Tivoli" (of Italianate style which he bought in 1870) off Woodbourne Avenue in northeast Baltimore,[9] Pratt left the vast majority of his wealth ($2 million of his $2.5 million) to supplement the earlier endowment of The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, (as it was later renamed, today it is titled the "Sheppard-Pratt Hospital", giving equal weight to both generous co-founders). Pratt was impressed by the trustees' frugal handling of the original founder's - Moses Sheppard, (1771/1773?-1857), endowment from 1857. “They are the only Board of Trustees in Baltimore,” said Pratt, “who have carried out exactly the directions of the founder.”[1] Pratt's bequest was used to complete construction of the old Moses Sheppard Asylum, enlarge the facility to house 200 additional patients at its country campus in western Towson, further north of the city off (North) Charles Street Avenue in suburban Baltimore County, at the old "Mount Airy Farm" of Baltimore merchant Thomas Poultney, which they purchased in 1858 and began construction two years later, however not opening until 1891, trying to remain faithful to the original directions to serve the indigent.

Sheppard Asylum

Pratt is best known for his establishment of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Many residents of the City in late 1881 speculated what was being planned for the excavations going on in the north side of West Mulberry Street, by Cathedral Street, near the old Baltimore Cathedral in the tomey Mount Vernon-Belvedere-Mount Royal neighborhood, north of the business district on Cathedral Hill. The mystery was explained when on January 21, 1882, in a letter addressed to the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, Pratt offered a gift of a central library, four branch libraries (with two additional ones to be constructed shortly thereafter), and a financial endowment of (U.S.) $1,058,333. Further, he requested that to Mayor William Pinkney Whyte and the Council continue an annual appropriation to the new library system and support it in the years to come to supplement the interest and benefits accumulating from the principal of his bequest. His intention was to establish a library that "shall be for all, rich and poor without distinction of race or color, who, when properly accredited, can take out the books if they will handle them carefully and return them." The grant was accepted by the municipal government, approved by the General Assembly of Maryland with some enabling legislation, and approved by the city voters later that year in an election/referendum on October 25, 1882. After four years of plans, construction and the hiring of staff with the purchasing of many books, the new library was ready to be opened in January 1886 with some appropriate addresses at ceremonies at the nearby Academy of Music on North Howard Street, and opened to new patrons and business the beginning of February 1886.[8]

The interior of the Enoch Pratt Free Library

Enoch Pratt Free Library

[1] in Massachusetts.Middleborough, founded 1873), to his hometown of Middleborough High School in 1856, and further endowed upon its 1865 incorporation - which later became a public grammar school preparing students for advancement to the local The Pratt Free School on South Market Street. In 1865, he donated a free school and public library (Frederick located at Maryland School for the Deaf and Dumb and the [1]

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