Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

J. Barry Mahool (1870-1935)
MSA SC 3520-12485


The following essay is taken from Wilbur F. Coyle, The Mayors of Baltimore (Reprinted from The Baltimore Municipal Journal, 1919) pp. 211-218.

"J. Barry Mahool was Mayor of Baltimore from May 21st, 1907 to May 16th, 1911.

"The beginning of this Administration found Baltimore in a state of advanced recovery from the damage caused by the fire of 1904.  The rehabilitation of the burnt district had progressed rapidly, and many features of the general scheme of improvement were well underway.  It fell to the lot of the incoming Mayor, therefore, to take up this important work for the betterment of the city and to institute new projects, quite outside those incident to the burnt district, as the situation developed.   The new piers (as originally planned) in the burnt district were completed and were leased under terms prescribed by ordinances.  A joint Recreation and Commercial pier, at the foot of Broadway, was suggested and a portion of the land for tins structure acquired.

"Probably the most important harbor improvement under this administration was the building of Municipal wharves No. 7 and 8, east of Jones Falls.  This development was incident to, but not definitely connected with the original general burnt district improvement scheme, since the piers erected were outside the area destroyed in 1904.  They, however, now form an important part of the system of docks owned by the city.  These piers were built on what had been part of the City Dock, (a settling basin of Jones Falls).  This in consequence was partly eliminated, as well as the Block Street drawbridge which spanned the Falls where the stream entered the upper harbor.  The entire physical aspect of the locality was changed by the building of the piers in question.

"The construction of a high pressure fire pipe line throughout much of the business district was begun.  Legislation authorizing the covering of Jones Falls; the building of the Fallsway, and providing for a $5,000,000 Harbor-Highway loan was adopted.

"Plans for a water-front street from Light and Lee to Montgomery, were approved.  This thoroughfare, now called the Key Highway, was extended to McComas street under a later administration.  An act creating a Paving Commission was passed and loans for a Gunpowder storage reservoir, filtration plant, school buildings, sewerage, underground wire conduit extensions, piers, annex improvements, parks, improved paving, and for a general fund were approved by the voters.  The construction of the Ashburton Reservoir at Forest Park was begun early in this administration and was completed January 18th, 1911.  This reservoir project had been "hanging fire" since the term of Mayor Hayes—1903.  The selection of a site was in legal controversy for a long time, which delayed the building of this important part of Baltimore's water supply.  A magnificent concrete bridge at Edmondson Avenue and Gwynn's Falls was built, replacing a wooden structure; Herring Run Park Venable Park, Gwynn's Falls Park were planned and developed in conformity with, the Olmsted Brothers' report on the "Development of Public Grounds for Greater Baltimore"—1903. A. "Civic Center" for public buildings, to the east of the City Hall, was again proposed but not carried out at the time.  An
 "Advisory Committee on Taxation and. Revenue," also an Architectural Commission were appointed.  A Municipal Tuberculosis and a new Charter Revision Commission were created.  The latter prepared a Charter for Baltimore City which, however, was not adopted.  An effort was made to attract out-of-town manufacturers to Baltimore, in consequence of which a Factory Site Commission was appointed to develop this idea.  A system of continuous auditing of the accounts of Municipal Departments was instituted; Segregation ordinances were passed, (later declared void).  These ordinances marked the beginning of a protracted effort in Baltimore to segregate the white and colored races in residential sections, but these laws were not sustained by the local or State Courts.  Other ordinances were later passed with the same object in view, and for a time were enforced.  A decision in 1918, however, by the United States Supreme Court, in a Louisville, Kentucky, Segregation Case, was held to affect and make void the local measure.  The revision of the Building Code by a Commission, appointed by Mayor McLane, was completed and adopted by an Ordinance signed by Mayor Mahool.  House connections with the sanitary sewer system were authorized by one of the earliest ordinances approved during this administration.  Under a former administration an investigation, into the subject of duplicate street names, which caused considerable confusion, was begun.  This matter was then thoroughly gone into and a compilation embodying suggestions which would simplify the situation was made.  This report, which changed the names of many streets, was adopted in 1908.  The recommendation of a (previously appointed) Grade Crossing Commission were approved, an ordinance to abolish such intersections in south and southwest Baltimore was passed, and the work of eliminating dangerous crossings in these localities begun.  A revaluation of the Municipal physical assets was compiled; a new fire-boat was contracted for; the Blind Asylum property, at North Avenue and Calvert Street, was purchased with funds provided by a school loan, the building was reconstructed and greatly enlarged for the purposes of the Polytechnic Institute, and additions were made to the Western Female High School, at Lafayette Avenue and McCulloh Street.  A new Union Station (Pennsylvania Railroad) on Charles street was constructed and many bridges over the tracks of this road, as well as across Jones Falls in the vicinity of the depot, were erected or rebuilt.  The John Hopkins Hospital was authorized by ordinance to erect and maintain a Psychiatric ward.  Provision was made for opening Gwynn’s Falls Parkway from Reisterstown Road to Gwynn’s Falls Park; Poplar Grove Street from Edmondson Avenue to Westwood Avenue, and many other streets in the (then) Annex.   The garbage reduction plant, an incinerating system, established during Mayor Hayes' administration, was removed from South Baltimore.  An ordinance affecting the sale of milk, a health measure, was passed and Rules of the Road or traffic regulations for vehicles were adopted.  A Councilmanic Resolution petitioned the Legislature to pass laws carrying the mosquito crusade throughout the State, Baltimore for some years having been engaged in efforts to exterminate the pest.   Approximately thirty-five miles of improved street paving (average forty feet wide) were laid, mostly in the then Annex, during this administration and ten miles of streets were opened.  Nine fire-engine and five hook-and-ladder truck companies were added to the Fire Department.  Thirty-seven miles of storm water sewers and one hundred and fifty miles of sanitary sewers were constructed.  Three public Bath buildings were erected and several portable bath-houses were operated by the Free Baths Commission.  The Cecilius Calvert (Lord Baltimore) statue at the St. Paul Street entrance to the Court-House was unveiled November 21st, 1908. The drinking-fountain in Market Place, donated by Gen. Alfred E. Booth, was accepted.  The Francis Scott Key monument at Eutaw Place and Lanvale street, (presented by Charles L. Marburg) was unveiled May 15th, 1911, and the John Muffin Hood monument, Hopkins Place and Baltimore street, erected by the City, was unveiled May 11th, 1911.

 * * * * * *

"J. Barry Mahool was born in Phoenix, Baltimore County, September 14th, 1870.  He was educated in the public schools, and coming to Baltimore entered the grain business in 1884.  He later became a member of the commission grain firm of Frame, Knight & Company.

"Mr. Mahool's family is well known in Baltimore County as well as in Baltimore City.  His father, Col. James Mahool, was an officer in the Confederate Army.  The future Mayor entered public office through the City Council, to the First Branch of which he was elected May 5th, 1903, from the Twelfth Ward.  He was re-elected in 1905, later being chosen President of that body.  Participating as a candidate for the Mayoralty nomination, in the primary election held April 2d, 1907, his opponents being J. Charles Linthicum and George Stewart Brown.  Mr. Mahool was successful, thus becoming the Democratic nominee.  In the general election of May 7th, 1907, he won over Mayor E. Clay Timanus, Republican.  In 1911 Mr. Mahool was a candidate for re-election as Mayor but was defeated in the primaries by James H. Preston.  In 1918 he came into office as President of the Second Branch, City Council, through the death of John Hubert, who occupied this position.  Mr. Mahool was chosen by the Branch to fill the vacancy.  He entered the next Democratic primary as a candidate for re-election as President of the Second Branch, but was unsuccessful against Mr. Howard Bryant, the latter becoming the party nominee."

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