Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry


Location: Baltimore, MD Map

Area: 43 acres (0.17 km²)

Constructed: 1798

Open: Park 8am- 5pm

Star Fort: 8am- 4:45pm

Visitor Center: 8am- 4:45pm


Extended Hours: May 26- Sept 3

Park: 8am- 8pm

Star Fort: 8am- 7:45pm

Visitor Center: 8am- 7:45pm

Closed: Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1

Entrance Fee: $7, adults 15 and younger are free

Official site


Description of Fort McHenry

The Star- Spangled Banner

Francis Scott Key (1779- 1843)


The Original Star Spangled Banner

This is the original banner that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired the poem that later became the anthem of the United States of America. It was made by flag maker Mary Young Pickersgill between July and August of 1813 in Baltimore, Maryland. She was paid $405.90 for her job. It was commissioned by Lt. Col. George Armistead, the commander of the fort. It was originally measured 30 feet by 42 feet. The main Great Garrison Flag as it was known was big enough for passing ships to see the ownership of the military citadel. A smaller and less impressive Storm Flag was kept for difficult weather conditions. Over time it lost several feet during its long and colourful history and now measures 30 feet by 34 feet. The flag also lost one of its stars that was cut out and recently sold for $38,837 at auction in Dallas, TX on November 30th, 2011. Unlike modern American flag that has 50 starts and 13 stripes, the star spangled banner had 15 stars (minus one missing) and 15 stripes. The commander of the fort Lt. Col. Armistead preserved the flag as a memento of the famous battle. He died in 1818 and this flag is said to cover his coffin. His daughter Georgiana Armistead kept it and gave it to her son Even Appleton in 1824. A letter "V" or incomplete letter "A" appeared on a flag somewhere in the late 19th century. It was either meant to signify "victory" or "Armstead". We will never know who and why did this. At the outbreak of the Civil War the was actually shipped out of the country for safekeeping. And the safest place for this piece of American history was in Great Britain (irony). It was loaned to Smithsonian Institution in 1907 and later transferred to the National Museum of American History in 1964.