Hotel Brexton, A Historic Hotel of America
Located approximately 10 blocks north of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Mount Vernon is bounded by Mount Royal Av. to the north, Mulberry St to the south, Guilford St. to the east and Howard St. to the west.
A National Register Historic District, Mount Vernon encompasses the best of what city living has to offer. This lively neighborhood not only serves as the cultural center of Baltimore but as the home to a diverse group of residents and businesses. College students who walk to class and professionals who work here, downtown, or as far away as Washington and New York are just some of the people who take advantage of Mt. Vernon's convenient location. Singles and empty nesters who seek to avoid the monotony of the suburbs, enjoy a wide array of art, entertainment, and services just steps from their front door. Living spaces include single family Victorian row homes, carriage houses, condominiums, apartments in row homes, and several high-rises.
History Mt. Vernon acquired its land and name during the 19th century when John Eager Howard and his heirs donated the highest point in Baltimore to become the site for the first memorial to George Washington. The site of the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon Square is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful urban sites in the world. Between 1800 and 1900 Mt. Vernon was at the center of Baltimore's transformation from an insignificant harbor city to a place of prominence and wealth. This was the time when fortunes were made and great philanthropies bestowed. During the neighborhood's early history, wealthy residents including Henry and William Walters, Robert Garrett, A.S. Abell, and Theodore Marburg commissioned well-known architects such as Niernsee & Neilson, Stanford White, John Russell Pope, and Robert Mills to build the grand buildings and monuments that still grace the neighborhood.
In addition to serving as home to wealthy Baltimoreans, Mt. Vernon was chosen as the site for major cultural institutions. The legacies of influential people such as George Peabody, Henry and William Walters, and Enoch Pratt continue on as the Peabody Conservatory, the Walters Art Gallery, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Most of the original Mt. Vernon buildings remain today, but their functions have changed. For example, the home of Henry and William Walters at 5 W. Mt. Vernon Place now serves as offices for the Walters Art Gallery; the Garret-Jacobs Mansion is now the Engineering Society; and the Jencks-Gladding house now the houses the Asian art for the Walters Art Gallery. The rejuvenation of the many historic and architecturally significant buildings has enabled Mt. Vernon to remain not only a diverse residential neighborhood, but also a cultural center and restaurant district.
Hitorical moments that contributed to the Hotel Brexton's character and charm...and those who were associated with this grand building during its tenure in Baltimore history.
April 26, 1838 - Charles Emmett Cassell, architect of the Brexton, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. He is the son of Charles E. and Sarah Walker Cassell.
1868 - The Baltimore City Council's decision to extend Park Avenue north of Richmond (now Read Street north to Biddle Street), created some oddly-shaped lots, but probably none more so than the triangle created by Park Avenue's intersection with Tyson Alley (now Brexton Street) and Tyson Street. Developer Samuel G. Wyman had his favorite architect Charles Cassell design a 'residential hotel' on the site.
November 30, 1869 - Alice Montague, mother to Wallis Simpson, is born.
July 31, 1869 - Teackle Wallis Warfield, the father of Wallis Simpson, is born in Baltimore, Maryland. He is the son of Henry MacTier Warfield and his wife Anna Emory.
December 1870 - Charles Emmett Cassell was a Founding Member of the AIA, Baltimore Chapter.
1881 - Construction of Hotel Brexton began by Charles E. Cassell, architect and owner Samuel Wyman. The original hotel featured a distinctive slate tile roof and red brick and mortar.
November 22, 1881 - The Sun prints an article stating "A Very Handsome Improvement..." announcing the building of the Brexton Hotel.
March 3, 1883 - Samuel Wyman dies, ownership passes to the Mary Byrd Wyman Memorial Association.
November 19, 1895 - Reverend Dr. C. Ernest Smith married Alice Montague and Teackle Wallis Warfield in a simple afternoon ceremony with no members of either family in attendance in Baltimore. They lived in Teackle's apartment at 28 Hopkins Place while he worked at the Continental Trust. Solomon D. Warfield, Teackle's brother, was a successful banker and President of the Continental Trust Company.
June 19, 1896 - Bessie Wallis Warfield was born in Square Cottage at Monterey Inn in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania with the help of Dr. Lewis Allen. "The Duchess believed that, through her parents, she had inherited two conflicting strains - the Warfield toughness and practical ability, the Montague gentleness and artistic sensibility. Thus, within her, the ambitious mingled with the easygoing, the respectable with the Bohemian, the serious with the light-hearted, the chaste with the sensual, the calculating with the spontaneous, the masculine with the feminine."
November 12, 1896 - This photograph was taken of Bessie Wallis on the rug for her dying father.
November 15, 1896 - Teackle Wallis Warfield dies of Tuberculosis (age 27) at his mother's home on Preston Street. Alice and Wallis move to East Preston Street with her mother-in-law, Anna Emory Warfield, and brother-in-law Solomon D. Warfield.
1905 - Because of a tense relationship with her mother-in law and an awkward relationship with Uncle Sol who had fallen in love with her, she and her mother moved nearby to a quiet family hotel with "Aunt Bessie" Merryman.
August 29, 1916 - Charles Emmett Cassell dies.
1927 - A renovation added a front canopy.
January 10, 1931 - On a Saturday evening at the Melton Mowbray, Lady Furness introduced Wallis to Edward Prince of Wales. They talked about the differences between British and American ways of life.
1917-1935 - Margaret Moffet Law, owner of the Brexton, was in Maryland and teaching at Bryn Mawr in Baltimore. Her work was expressive and spontaneous. She began working on site using a palette knife.
January 20, 1936 - George V died and Edward Prince of Wales ascended the throne as Edward VIII. The next day he broke royal protocol by watching the proclamation of his accession from a window of St. James' Palace, in the company of the still-married Wallis Simpson. The King's behavior and his relationship with Wallis made him unpopular with the Conservative-led British government, as well as distressing his mother and brother.
December 10, 1936 - Thursday morning, King Edward VIII signed the Instrument of Abdication, witnessed by his four brothers at Fort Belvedere which became law by Friday afternoon. King Edward became Duke of Windsor. That night, he made his famous radio broadcast announcing his decision. He explained that he found it "impossible to do my duty as King and Emperor without the help and support of the woman I love."
June 3, 1937 - Wallis married Edward at the Chateau de Cande, the date would have been King George V's 72nd birthday. No member of the British Royal Family attended. At this time he was Duke of Windsor but she was not yet Duchess.
1947 - The Brexton Hotel undergoes another renovation.
1970's - Brexton Hotel building closes due to changes in city building codes.
May 28, 1972 - Sunday morning, 2:00 AM, Edward, Duke of Windsor dies of cancer of the larynx.
1974 - The Brexton Hotel is purchased by Rose Pettus Hayes for $55,000.
July 30, 1980 - Jay Brodie writes to Mayor William Schaffer about assisting with renovations. He estimates costs to be $20k per unit, or $520k total in construction costs for a "face lift," including a new elevator, plumbing, electrical, heating, kitchens, and baths. The outstanding mortgage is $25k and the rent was $170 per unit.
August 28, 1980 - Deputy House Commissioner Evans, Jerry Doctrow (Section head, rehabilitation services), Barbara Hoff (Director, CHAP) and Rose Hayes meet to discuss tax and loan programs for rehabilitation.
1985 - The exterior paint is removed to reveal the original brick facade.
1986 - Rose Pettus Hayes dies on October 25, 1986.
April 24, 1986 - The Duchess of Windsor dies on April 24, 1986. Her funeral was held at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, attended by her two surviving sisters-in-law: the Queen Mother and Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. The Queen, Prince Philip, and the Prince and Princess of Wales attended both the funeral ceremony and the burial. She was buried next to Edward in the Royal Burial Ground near Windsor Castle, as "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor".
Spring 1987 - Rose Hayes, Brexton proprietor, dies and the building is vacated.
November 1997 - The Brexton Renaissance is established by Roger Wood, but not before the building had fallen into a state of complete disrepair.