Druid Hill Park's Scottish sentinel to be rededicated Statue of Wallace nears age 100

JACQUES KELLY

August 20, 1993|By JACQUES KELLY

A bronze Scottish warrior garbed in medieval battle armor has guarded the western bank of Druid Lake for nearly 100 years.

The man frozen in metal is William Wallace, the Scottish patriot (1272?-1305) known as the "Hammer and Scourge of England." His drawn sword points toward the heavens. He looks off across the lake. His eyes just might be fixed on the Gothic tower of Baltimore City College.

The statue will be rededicated at 11 a.m. Sunday by the St. Andrew's Society of Baltimore, the Kiltie Band of York and the Clan Wallace Society. The ceremony comes just a few months short of the 100th anniversary of the day when Baltimoreans first saw this 17-foot-high statue of granite and bronze.

The statue was presented to the citizens of Baltimore by William Wallace Spence, who was born in Edinburgh in 1815. At 18, he sailed to America, went into business in New York, then came to Baltimore, where he set up an import-export firm on Pratt Street's old Bowley's Wharf.

He made a fortune in sugar, coffee and grain, then went into banking, as an officer of the old Mercantile Trust and Deposit and the Eutaw Savings Bank.

Every banking day a fine carriage, drawn by two splendid horses, called at Spence's home at 1205 St. Paul St. "He never fell in love with the auto and would not ride in one," his obituary said.

He was devoutly religious and donated the monumental "Divine Healer" statue of Jesus Christ to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where it stands in the rotunda facing the Broadway entrance.

Spence, who was an avid chess player, remained a true Scotsman in sentiment. When he reached the age of 100 and 100 American Beauty roses came to his home, he said his favorite gift was a basket of heather and thistle.

Spence traveled to Scotland and admired a William Wallace statue by sculptor D.W. Stevenson at Abbey Craig near Stirling. The Baltimore banker was so filled with patriotism he commissioned a copy for Druid Hill Park. The big statue was shipped here and unveiled on Nov. 30, 1893, during a ceremony that featured bagpipers.

"Twelve thousand people were gathered around the colossal statue and they gave a mighty cheer when the veil that hid the beauty fell away, leaving it sharply outlined against the winter's sky," The Sun reported on Dec. 1, 1893.

Louisa Wallace Hazelhurst, great-great granddaughter of the donor, pulled the cord.

Mayor F.C. Latrobe said that day, "Baltimore . . . owes much of its prosperity and energy, public spirit and liberality to citizens of Scotch descent."

The singing of "Auld Lang Syne" closed the event in Druid Hill Park but it did not end the day's colorful festivities.

A Washington contingent of Scots had a dinner at Camden Station, then rode the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad home. Another group from Sparrows Point went to Ditch's Hotel for a meal. The remaining members of the St. Andrew's Society took over a banquet hall at the Equitable Building, then the city's most elegant office structure. It remains standing today at Calvert and Fayette streets.

The Sun reported that during the banquet "at every course the pipers droned away as if their life depended upon their vigor."

Also on Dec. 1, the paper published a recipe for haggis, the Scots delicacy. The dish requires a sheep's heart, lungs and liver to be mixed with minced suet, onions, oatmeal, salt and pepper, then boiled in the sheep's stomach.

"A portion of the [haggis] puddin' was served to each person present. The Scotchmen ate it as if it were the most toothsome dish that could be served. The [other] guests ate it too and were polite enough to say they liked it," The Sun said.

The meal the Scots consumed was not assembled on a Scotsman's budget: Lynnhaven oysters, olives, hare soup, Apolanaris water, diamondback terrapin a la Maryland, celery.

Then came the haggis, sweetbread sauce, French peas, roast xTC turkey, cranberry sauce, redhead duck with currant jelly, roast Smithfield ham with champagne sauce.

Then lobster salad, Roquefort cheese, sherry, sauterne, hot Scotch whisky, harlequin ice cream, fruit and cakes.

And, finally, coffee and cigars.

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