Who Was Charles W. Baldwin?
Many people are familiar with Anne Arundel County’s Historic Baldwin Hall (1861) on Millersville Road, but not everyone knows about the man for whom it is named, Rev. Charles Winterfield Baldwin. He was a remarkable man, and his story deserves to be told.
Charles Winterfield Baldwin was born 23 March 1840, the tenth of eleven children of Judge William Henry Baldwin and Jane Maria Woodward, the grandson of Captain Henry Baldwin who served in the Revolutionary War. He and his siblings grew up at the family home, Bunker Hill, in Anne Arundel County, near the site of the present Baldwin Hall.
Charles Winterfield Baldwin entered Yale University in 1859 as a junior, graduating in 1861. While at Yale, he was also secretary of the Yale baseball team. (Go, Bulldogs!) After graduation, he studied law in Baltimore for two years, but ultimately decided to enter the ministry, studying at Yale Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary.
In 1866, he began his ministry as a junior pastor on the Severn Circuit, which included his family home as well as the Cross Roads Church, now Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church. By 1897, he was the presiding elder of the West Baltimore District of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was superintendent of the Baltimore City Mission until 1910. He retired from the ministry in 1916, but often returned to the pulpit, frequently recalling the "old-time Methodist experience" which he hoped would revive.
Rev. Baldwin was raised in the years that led up to the Civil War, and his family owned slaves. But, as early adherents of John Wesley’s Methodism, they were challenged to reflect on the morality of slave ownership. That reflection led to slaves being freed before the Civil War and given land to help them build a life of freedom.
Rev. Baldwin was committed to living a life that recognized the inherent value of all human beings and devoted his energy to creating opportunities for women and black people, especially in education. In 1884 he was an incorporator of the Women’s College of Baltimore City (now Goucher College) and served as a trustee. He also helped to found, and later served as Chancellor of, American University, an institution that educated men and women, black and white, for careers in public service. Starting in 1899, he served 24 years as a trustee of Morgan State College (now Morgan State University), an historically black institution in Baltimore.
Rev. Baldwin married Annie Campbell Hopkins in 1868 and had a daughter Marie with her. After Annie’s death, he married Anna Thomas in 1876. There were no children from his second marriage.
In the years before his death, Rev. Baldwin lost his sight but had the newspaper read to him every day. He died in Baltimore MD in 1938 at the age of 98, the last surviving member of his graduating class at Yale, having served 70 years in the Methodist ministry.
He is buried in the cemetery at Baldwin Memorial United Methodist Church in Millersville MD, just down the road from the house where he was born and across the street from the 1861 hall that bears his name.
The Cora Anderson Dulaney Library next to Historic Baldwin Hall has a large collection of Rev. Baldwin's letters and papers.