Baltimore City Ground Rents

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In 2007 the staff and I produced a cd demonstrating the complexity of sorting out ground rents in Baltimore City:

Documenting Ground Rents in Baltimore City

For anyone interested in the history of ground rents in Baltimore City, one of the best sources is Parceling Out Land in Baltimore, 1632-1796 by Garrett Power (reprinted from the Maryland Historical Magazine in 1993).

An example of the complexity of determining ground rents in Baltimore City is represented by research on 122-124 East Churchill Street (Block 906, Lot 59). The ground rents on this property were first created by an heir of John Eager Howard following distribution of his estate after 1829. The ground rents for this particular address originated in two leases and two sub-leases executed in 1849. The total amount of the original ground rent due yearly for 99 years was $87.79, renewable. In addition, that same year, sub-rents were created in the amount of $56.43, 99 years renewable. It is not clear who, if anyone, holds title to any of the ground rents and sub-rents on this property at the present time, even though the building owners and the Archives have gone to great lengths to attempt to identify who those owners might be. There is some evidence that a modern-day heir of John Eager Howard, or someone holding title from a John Eager Howard heir, may have a legitimate claim to these ground rents, but no clear title has been documented to date. For the original leases and sub-leases to 122 and 124 East Churchill Street, see Baltimore County Court Land Records AWB 423, pp. 439-444 and AWB 424, pp. 352-357, which are available on, as well as on this CD.

See also the Sanborn insurance map showing this property in 1879. Note that the address for 122-124 East Churchill Street on this map may be 25 Little Church Street.

Prepared by Edward C. Papenfuse, Jennifer Hafner, and Kimberly Moreno, February 27, 2007.