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Building on a Legacy of Philanthropy

May 4, 2020 by Samantha Mitchell

Middendorf, Sheridan Foundations support Evergreen’s terrace restoration

While the typical terrace is a gateway to the grounds, the terrace at the Evergreen Museum & Library is a bridge to history.

Over the past year, this Hopkins-owned historic house museum orchestrated a full restoration of the terrace off of its Main Library. Lori Beth Finkelstein, Ph.D., the Philip Franklin Wagley Director & Curator at Evergreen Museum & Library, notes that before the restoration, visitors could only observe the terrace from inside the house or by looking up from the gardens.

“With this restoration,” Finkelstein says, “guests can experience how the terrace was meant to function, as a bridge between the grounds and the house.” She adds that staff are very excited for the space to be used for unique programmatic experiences, such as student performances, concerts, or even al fresco dining experiences.

In recent years, the terrace has been closed to the public due to its age and deterioration. But thanks to support from both the Middendorf Foundation and the Sheridan Foundation, the structural issues were addressed, and, wherever possible, the same or similar contractors to those originally used were employed.

Originally built in the 1850s, Evergreen was home to the Garrett family for two generations. The patriarch of the family was John W. Garrett, who served as president of the B&O Railroad for three decades and purchased the home for his son T. Harrison Garrett in 1878. When his grandson, John Work Garrett II, and granddaughter-in-law, Alice Warder Garrett, inherited the Gilded-Age home in northern Baltimore in 1920, the couple updated the space, inspired by their passions for contemporary art, rare books, and theater.

From building an art collection that includes pieces by luminaries such as Degas, Picasso, and Modigliani to updating the Victorian gardens to an Italianate style, the couple’s impact on the mansion was visionary and dramatic. Their improvements included the construction of the terrace in 1928. Built onto the Main Library—one of four physical spaces inside Evergreen that comprise the 30,000-volume John Work Garrett Library—the terrace served as an important architectural link between the symmetry of the gardens and the artistry within the home.

The Garrett family is known today for their remarkable philanthropy and patronage, such as Mary Elizabeth Garrett whose donation helped to create the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine (on the condition that it accepted women as students). This legacy extends to the family home, with Evergreen being donated to Hopkins in 1942. The mansion’s unique forty-eight rooms—and now again the terrace—are all meticulously maintained by Johns Hopkins staff.

“We feel incredibly grateful to the foundations for their support, and we are so excited for guests to re-discover the architectural significance of the terrace,” says Finkelstein.

Historic photos courtesy of the Evergreen House Foundation.

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Topics: Faculty and Staff, Foundations, Sheridan Libraries and University Museums, Fuel Discovery