Almshouse History

Almshouse in the 1940s
Almshouse in the 1940s

All images are historic images of the Brown House as Anne Arundel County's Almshouse in the 1940s.

Learn About the Almshouse

We wanted to take this opportunity to share the history of our Almshouse with you. From 1823 until 1965, the tavern William Brown constructed in the 1760s served as Anne Arundel County’s Almshouse. The purpose of the Almshouse was to give shelter and work to the county’s poor. The funds to run the Almshouse came from taxes that were levied on the citizens of the county. This was a common method of attempting to take care of people who were poor or had mental illness. People who had nothing – no money, no home, and no one to support them – could petition the county to live in the Almshouse.

Scott Street View of William Brown House. Taken by Marion E. Warren in 1955. Copy is courtesy of the Maryland State Archives (MSA SC 1890-02-1973).
Scott Street View of William Brown House. Taken by Marion E. Warren in 1955. Copy is courtesy of the Maryland State Archives (MSA SC 1890-02-1973).

The conditions that these residents endured were abysmal. Sanitation was lacking and supplies were limited. African American inhabitants were segregated from white residents and forced to live in a structure little better than a shack. Clothing was ragged, healthcare was limited, and food scarce. In 1906, a law limited the time children could be housed at the Almshouse to 90 days. In the 20thCentury, the almshouse became an institution that primarily housed the impoverished elderly population of Anne Arundel County.

Dated 1934. Image belonged to Elizabeth Edmondo
Dated 1934. Image belonged to Elizabeth Edmondo

The decrepit conditions of the Almshouse were repeatedly brought up in commission reports, calling the institution “a disgrace.” The people who occupied the Almshouse were severely disadvantaged, and in their time of need, they were not cared for. Despite their access to a desperately needed social service, they were not protected.

1966. Taken by Marion E. Warren
1966. Taken by Marion E. Warren

In this time of great uncertainty, we urge you to care for your community. Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly. Get them groceries if they can’t leave their homes. Walk their dogs. Care for those in your community who are struggling. Donate what you can, be it time, money, or goods. There are so many reputable institutions carrying on the work of caring for those in need. Below we’ve linked just a few who are carrying on the work of the Almshouse into the 21st Century.

  • Anne Arundel County Government has created a resource page for COVID-19 information. This includes a donation page with a list of places where you can donate funds or goods to help the community as well as a volunteer page with information about how to help with your time.

  • The Community Fund of Anne Arundel County (CFAAC) has created a Community Crisis Response Fund. All funds raised will be used to meet the fast-emerging, immediate and long-term needs posed by the COVID-19 virus.

  • The Anne Arundel County Food Bank is conducting a virtual food drive to fight hunger ensuring that all those in need have access to food, nutritional supplements and baby food.


Grow the ReLeaf Fund

Recently, London Town launched the ReLeaf Fund. This newly created fund was inspired by the cycle of renewal in our gardens. Donations to it will ensure that London Town will grow again. Funds will be matched up to $35,000! Learn more and donate today!


London Town: Today and Tomorrow Survey

You may have noticed an increase in our online postings lately. Will you take a short survey about what posts and virtual programs you'd like? You can also share your thoughts about re-opening London Town and what sort of programs you'd like to see after the crisis is over. Take the survey here

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