At the turn of the century, the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion was the center of Baltimore's social scene.
Now, the Engineering Society of Baltimore, which owns the building, cannot afford to repair the city's largest townhouse. So, in an effort to raise $5 million for renovations, the group announced yesterday the formation of the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion Endowment Fund.
"If we could bring the building up to the 20th century, it would be an economical building and a beautiful building," said Jay Hanna, the society's president.
The mansion at 11 W. Mount Vernon Place has 40 rooms, 16 fireplaces and 100 windows. It is used for Engineering Society meetings and other social functions, but the building needs plumbing and electrical repairs, new heating equipment and a refurbishing of its brownstone facade, Mr. Hanna said.
In the 1850s, Robert Garrett, president of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, built the mansion. He merged it with two adjacent townhouses in the 1870s.
Garrett died in 1896. Six years later, his wife, Mary Frick Garrett, married Dr. Henry Barton Jacobs.
After Jacobs died in 1939, the building changed hands several times until the Engineering Society bought it in 1962. The group has scheduled a fund-raising gala at the mansion Feb. 11 to raise money for renovations.
"There's no way you could put a price on it," Mr. Hanna said of the mansion, which is open for tours daily by appointment. "You couldn't build a building like this anymore."