BNHA Westminster Presbyterian Church and Cemetery


Baltimore City Landmark

National Register of Historic Places

Interpretive Framework

Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century

Upholding Independence: Baltimore and the War of 1812

Resource Type

Points of Interest


519 W Fayette St

Baltimore, Maryland 21201

Amid the hustle and bustle of west Baltimore’s hospital district, the Westminster Hall Burying Ground is a quiet oasis for reflection and the resting place of several War of 1812 heroes. Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith (commander of the Baltimore defenses) and Brig. Gen. John Stricker (commander of American forces at North Point) are buried here, as is John Stuart Skinner, who accompanied Francis Scott Key to the British fleet. Of international importance is the tomb of Edgar Allan Poe, constructed in part with pennies collected from Baltimore schoolchildren.

Originally called the Western Burying Ground, the land for this cemetery and church was deeded to the Presbyterians by John Eager Howard in 1786. Maximilien Godefroy, architect of the Battle Monument and St. Mary’s Chapel, designed many of the older and larger burial vaults in the cemetery and the Egyptian Revival style entrance on Greene Street.

As the city pushed westward during the 1840s and 1850s, the Presbyterians feared the historic graves would be neglected or vandalized, so they built a church above them. Designed in the perpendicular English style by Thomas and James Dixon and Thomas Balbirnie, Westminster Church was completed in 1852.