Footsteps biography doesn’t get more real than this. Young Wallis Warfield, barely ten years old and fatherless, lived in this building in Baltimore where I have just spent a night. Many times she walked up the same red brick-edged steps that I just have, with a heart – by her own account – almost as heavy as my suitcase.
It was around 1905 that Wallis and her widowed mother, Alice, moved in to the Brexton lodging house, built in 1891 on a strange corner plot with 58 bedrooms and only a handful of shared bathrooms. The time they spent here was deeply unhappy for them both. Wallis recalled later how she endured meals alone with her mother, bathrooms shared with other tenants “and rather forlorn excursions” to the Warfield family house on East Preston Street, the smartest part of town, that they had just left. Probably they had fled in a hurry because her late father’s brother, Uncle Sol, on whom they depended for money, had made unwelcome overtures to the beautiful Alice. As keen-eyed Wallis noticed, there suddenly descended a mysterious and disturbing barrier preventing discussion of anything connected with the family mansion. Read More