When George Brown died in 1859, his estate was valued at $2,500,000, an amount that would top $7 billion in today’s dollars (George Brown was the son of Alex Brown, the founder of the first investment banking firm in the United States). George Brown left his trust in the control of his wife, Isabella McLanahan Brown, who established Brown Memorial Presbyterian church in his memory with part of the bequest. How did George Brown make his money, thought to be the biggest fortune amassed by a citizen of Maryland?
As Brown Memorial commemorates its 150th Anniversary, we delve into the history of our institution and its place in the past of Baltimore and America. In November, we held a session after church on the history of structural racism in our city. During the education hour on three Sundays in December, we will continue our investigation. These Faith Topics classes will take place at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday mornings. The class on Dec. 1 will take place in the Fellowships Building, Room 201:
On December 1, 2019, we investigate the involvement of Alex Brown & Sons in the cotton trade and will take a look at Isabella Brown, who was “associated in the public mind with all that is true and elevated in religion and lovely in woman,” (Baltimore: Its History and Its People, 1912). Who were her family, the McLanahans, and what other charitable efforts did she and her husband pursue?
On December 8, we will focus on Bolton Hill, looking at ways the neighborhood weathered the changes that rocked the city during the 20th century, and, weather permitting, we may take a walking tour.
On December 15, we will have some hands-on experiences with the archives of our congregation that were kept for decades at Brown Memorial Woodbrook.
There is much to celebrate in our congregation’s rich history, but there may also be some reckoning due, an appropriate act for a church borne of the country’s first investment bank.