Built for Dr. John Hanson Thomas, the great-grandson of John Hanson, President of the Continental Congress, The Hackerman House represented the height of elegance and convenience in the mid-nineteenth century. Renowned guests include the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and General Kossuth. In 1892, Mr. and Mrs. Francis M. Jencks purchased the home and remodeled it extensively under the direction of Charles A. Platt. The graceful circular staircase was widened and the oval Tiffany skylight installed in the coffered dome. The bow window in the dining room was added and the entire house was decorated in the Italian Renaissance style.
Following the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Jencks, the house was used as headquarters for various civic organizations and fell into a state of neglect and disrepair. Mr. Harry Leo Gladding purchased the building in 1963 and painstakingly restored it to its former elegance. Willard Hackerman purchased the building at 1 West Mount Vernon Place in the late 1980’s from the estate of its last owner, Harry Gladding. Mr. Hackerman was concerned with the possibility that the architectural anchor of Mount Vernon Place might be converted to commercial use. Story has it that he took the keys and placed them on the desk of then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer. In true Schaefer fashion, the Mayor held a contest to determine the best use of the historic structure. The Walters won the competition with a proposal to convert the house into galleries for its growing and important collection of Asian Art. Hackerman House opened in the spring of 1991. Mr. and Mrs. Hackerman have generously supported the Walters for many years and his firm, Whiting-Turner, has been the contractor for many of our additions and renovations. Over the years, he was a friend and mentor to our directors and Board members.