Severn Teackle Wallis Statue
The Municipal Art Society's Memorial to a Maryland Lawyer
The Severn Teackle Wallis Statue by French sculptor Laurent-Honoré Marqueste was dedicated on January 9, 1906 in the south square of Mount Vernon Place in front of the new building of the Walters Art Gallery. Today, the statue stands in the east park facing Saint Paul Street.
Wallis was born in Baltimore to a wealthy slaveholding family in 1816. He trained to become a lawyer as a young man and joined the bar in 1837. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, Wallis was elected to the Maryland State Legislature but, on September 12, he was arrested by Union troops due to his support for the secession of Southern states. Wallis was held at Fort Monroe along with several other elected officials from Baltimore for fourteen months before his release.
In 1900, six years after Wallis' death, the city's Municipal Art Society launched a campaign to erect new statues of both Wallis and John Eager Howard. S. Davies Warfield, a railroad executive and banker, originally proposed the idea of the Wallis statue and chaired the committee to direct the project. At the recommendation of George A. Lucas, a Parisian art critic and former Baltimorean, the committee selected French sculptor Laurent-Honoré Marqueste. Warfield collected photographs and items of clothing owned by Wallis then sent the materials to Paris as a source for the sculptor's design. At the dedication in January 1906, Mayor E. Clay Timanus accepted the statue on the city's behalf and Arthur George Brown delivered an address recalling Wallis as an "ideal Baltimorean."
By 1919, however, the city had decided to relocate the Wallis statue to the park's east square to make way for a monument to Revolutionary war hero Marquis de Lafayette. One resident wrote to the Sun the protest the move, presenting Wallis as "one of the greatest legal figures Maryland ever produced,” who should not be relegated to an “obscure piece of lawn.” Despite the critics, the statue moved east to join the George Peabody Statue in the east square of Mount Vernon Place where it continues to sit today.