MHT File Photo
Mother Seton House
600, Paca St., N., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The 2 ½-story red brick house on the grounds of St. Mary’s Seminary at 600 N. Paca Street in Baltimore City is similar to other small homes built in the early 1800s for the predominantly French community nearby. It stands detached and is somewhat larger in scale and more pretentious in design than the similar small houses in the city. The small front yard is surrounded by a brick and iron-spiked fence. The entrance is at the south end of the east façade, a "cross-and-Bible" door, topped by a transom in which the muntins form three Gothic arches. The doorway is flanked by two full-length shutters. To the north are two casement windows each with eight nearly square lights, and shutters flank the units. The second floor has three evenly spaced casement windows, similar to those on the first floor, and on the third floor, there is one double-hung dormer with 6/6 lights set into the center of the steeply pitched slate gable roof. All the exterior trim is wood, painted white, except the window sills, which are stone. The south façade of the house is punctuated by two windows on each of the first and second floors, while the north façade contains only one window which is on the first floor. There is one brick chimney set flush in each gable-end. Each has a one-brick edge and three-arch brick cap.
The Mother Seton House was the home of Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821),the only American-born woman beatified by the Roman Catholic Church. She founded the religious order of the Daughters of Charity while living in this house on North Paca Street in Baltimore. Mother Seton described the house in one of her letters as being surrounded by orchards and French in design. For this reason, and because the Frenchman Maximilian Godefroy, the architect of St. Mary’s Seminary Chapel, was an instructor in drawing at the Seminary at that time, there has been speculation that he may have designed this building, too. The purpose for which the house was originally erected has been long forgotten; however, it was offered as an inducement to Elizabeth Seton to come to Baltimore in 1808 and there to found a school and occupy the then newly completed house. After Mother Seton’s departure from Baltimore, the building was used for many years by the Seminary as a work house, and in the 1960s was restored to its original appearance through the efforts of a committee which continues to operate it as a museum.