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Henry Walters (1848–1931)
Henry Walters (1848–1931)

Henry Walters was a businessman and collector who founded the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1869 and enrolled in the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University between 1869 and 1872. In 1889, he moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, to be general manager of his father's railroad, the Atlantic Coast Line. Following his father’s death in 1894, he became president and transferred the line’s headquarters to New York. He retired in 1902. In New York, Walters lived with Pembroke and Sarah Jones; three years after Pembroke Jones’s death in 1919, Henry married Sarah.

When Henry Walters’s father died in 1894, he bequeathed his collection to his son, who continued to make acquisitions, including the purchase of the contents of a palace in Rome that contained over 1,700 objects. In September 1900, Walters bought the three houses adjoining a property in Baltimore that his father had owned in order to house and display his collection. He transformed the property into a palazzo-like building, which opened to the public in 1909 as the Walters Art Gallery. Walters died in 1931, leaving the building and its contents to the mayor and city council of Baltimore “for the benefit of the public.” The Walters Art Museum opened as a public institution on November 3, 1934.

 

William R. Johnston, William and Henry Walters: The Reticent Collectors (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999).