JUST FOLLOW THE COBBLESTONE ROAD...
The Horse You Came in On Saloon, known by locals simply as "The Horse", at 1626 Thames Street, was established in 1775 and over the next two centuries became a Fell's Point institution.
The Horse was the last destination before the mysterious death of the great American writer Edgar Allan Poe. In addition to being Baltimore's oldest saloon, it is the only bar in Maryland to exist before, during and after prohibition. It operates as America's oldest continually operated saloon.
The Fell's Point Historic District, bound by Aliceanna Street on the north, Wolfe Street in the east, Dallas Street on the west, and Baltimore Harbor on the south, is part of the Fell's Point neighborhood which was founded in 1730 by William Fell. In 1763, William's son Edward Fell laid out streets and began selling plots. The town grew quickly, and eventually incorporated with Baltimore Town and Jones Town in 1797 to form the city of Baltimore. The area grew wealthy on the tobacco, flour and coffee trades through the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Horse You Came In On?
Forty-one years ago, Howard Gerber began scouting sites for his dream bar. He fell for Thames Street on a warm, foggy night, smitten by the clapboard, cobblestone and salty air. Gerber chose a sturdy dormer-roofed building that had been a tavern most of its 200 years. When he came along, it was Al's and Ann's, a neighborhood joint that made more money selling cigarettes than drinks. But with the right location, Gerber needed the right name.
"We wanted something so unique that people walking by would say, `We have to go in there,' " he says.
The idea of playing off of a saucy curse caught Gerber's fancy, and a little equine karma clinched it. When he got lucky enough at Pimlico to afford his down payment, he figured that was all the sign he needed, The Horse You Came In On it was.
Besides sparking countless conversations over the nicked wooden bar, the pub's name inspired best-selling mystery writer Martha Grimes, who used it as the title of her 12th Richard Jury detective caper.
When the author visited the saloon 13 years ago, she said, "The only reason part of this book is set in Baltimore is that I saw this pub sign.
In 1976, a Sun columnist described the scene as warm, laid-back and refreshingly undone: "All of which is in keeping with the nature of the patrons, who are stylish but not slick, educated but not intellectual, and hip but not trend-setting."
The Horse's ambience these days is no different.
November 09, 2006|By Jill Rosen | Sun reporter