The Margaret J. Bennett Home opened in 1902 as a boarding house for women. Mrs. Bennett, widow of Francis Worthington Bennett, an auctioneer, died in 1900 with no children. Mrs. Bennett provided $150,000 in her will towards opening the house for women, which remained open into the 1970s.
In the 1900’s a room and two meals daily started at $8 – $12 a week, then increased to $27.50 a week in the 1920s and housed females from 14 – 40 years old. Some of the early house rules included:
o No excessive use of cosmetics
o No smoking
o No advertising from the house
o No bringing employment into the home
o No alcohol
o No food in the bedroom
o No use of electric or gas
o No oil appliances
o Mandatory house meeting attendance
o Guest visits were $1.50 per day
o Curfew started at 9:00 p.m. and moved to 11:00 p.m. in the 1920s
Today, the Margaret J. Bennett Home continues to serve women in Baltimore. The WHC took ownership of the building and celebrated its groundbreaking in 1999. It currently houses 30 individuals in 29 single room occupancies and 1 apartment. In 2016 a basement space was renovated to create a gym and cooking demonstration kitchen. At the beginning of 2019, the health suite that was first opened in 2011, but had not been used in recent years, was reopened with new occupants – Health Alliance Associates, Inc. They provide an integrated model of primary care, behavioral health, medication therapy management and peer recovery outreach for persons recovering from homelessness, mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and other traumas. Health Alliance has been a great partner to us, providing same or next-day appointments to any of our residents in need of their services, and to the community at large, as most of their patients are from outside our program.
At the Women’s Housing Coalition, we are grateful to our staff, patrons, and visionaries, like Mrs. Margaret Bennett, for helping us fulfill our mission to create stability for families and individuals with safe housing.
If the Margaret J. Bennett Home is also a part of your history, we would love to hear about it. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story as part of our upcoming 40th anniversary.