Enoch Pratt

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Pratt, Enoch (Born 1808 - 1896)

Pratt, a Unitarian, was a 19th century financier and philanthropist.

In 1882, Pratt offered a gift to the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore of a Central library, four branch libraries, and an endowment of $1,058,333.00.

"My library," Mr. Pratt is attributed to have said, "shall be for all, rich and poor without distinction of race or color, who, when properly accredited, can take out the books if they will handle them carefully and return them."

Later that year, the City of Baltimore accepted Pratt's gift, and Baltimore citizens voted their approval on October 25, 1882.

1883 The Pratt Library's Board of Trustees organized with Enoch Pratt as President. Pratt, a Unitarian, was a 19th century financier and philanthropist.

He had been born in North Middleborough, Massachusetts, where he was educated at the Bridgewater Academy. After clerking in a Boston hardware firm before moving to Baltimore in 1831, he launched his own wholesale hardware store on South Charles Street. In 1851, investing in western Maryland coal mines and iron yards, he and a partner made their own merchandise, o longer dependent upon northern manufacturers.

From 1860 until his death, he was the president of the National Farmers' and Planters' Bank of Baltimore. Pratt also became president of the Baltimore Clearing House and the Maryland Bankers' Association, in addition to establishing a role in several transportation companies.

Pratt and his wife had no children. Pratt gave much of his time and wealth to Baltimore's cultural and charitable institutions. He served as a trustee of the Peabody Institute as well as treasurer and chairman of its library committee. He founded the House of Reformation and Instruction for Colored Children at Cheltenham, and the Maryland School for the Deaf and Dumb at Frederick. In 1865, he donated a free school and public library to his home town in Massachusetts.


In 1881 construction began of an imposing white marble structure on Baltimore's Mulberry Street that opened five years later as the Enoch Pratt Free Circulating Library. The main branch of the library is now located on Cathedral Street in downtown Baltimore. Today twenty-two branches serve patrons throughout Baltimore.

Pratt, upon his death in 1896, stipulated that his bequest be used to complete construction of the Sheppard Asylum, enlarge the facility to house 200 additional patients, serve the indigent, and that the name of the institution be changed to The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. All of his conditions were met and The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital remains in operation today as the hospital component of the behavioral health provider, Sheppard Pratt Health System.