Benjamine Franklin BENNETT,
builder, was born in Oakland,
formerly in Baltimore county but now included in the territory of Carroll,
on September 22, 1824. His father, Benjamine BENNETT, was a farmer and a
descendant of Thomas BENNETT and his wife Peggy (TEVIS) BENNETT, who emigrated
from England and settled at Annapolis about 1775. The elder Benjamine BENNETT,
during the second war with England - 1812 to 1814 - forsook his farm long enough
to take up arms in the nation's defence and served as a captain during the
conflict. The early days of young Bennett were passed amid such surroundings
as are common to sons of farmers. He was a robust lad, fully able to share in
the labor of a farm, and was required to perform his part of the farm work. He
was assigned a small portion of the farm which was regarded as his own land. On
Saturdays he would work this strip of land and by the sale of the products which
he there cultivated, he obtained his spending money and bought his clothes.
Young Bennett continued on the farm until his seventeenth year. About this
time the question arose whether he or his brother should follow in the father's
footsteps. The brother, being the elder, was permitted to choose; and he
determined to be a farmer. Benjamine therefore concluded to take up a trade,
and took up his residence in Baltimore. He became an apprentice in carpentry
and building on March 15, 1840, and finished his apprenticeship on September 22,
1844. After he reached the city he began to feel the great need of fitting himself
more thoroughly for his life work, and he became a close student of books. With
his pocket Testament, such works of history as he could obtain, and books upon
architecture which he thought would be useful to him in his chosen trade, he began the
task of self-education.
Mr Bennett's mother, who had been Miss Margaret GORSUCH before her marriage, had inculcated in her son the earnest desire to advance in life and to be a credit to his family; while his early companionships taught him to help others as well as himself. These lessons learned in boyhood have borne their fruit in after years. He has constantly striven to advance in his profession, by study as well as by thorough work. As a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, he has contributed liberally of his time to almost every enterprise of the local congregations of his denomination; and he has given lavishly to the work of his own and of other churches.
Mr. Bennett was married on August 27, 1848, to Eleanor A. WARD, by whom he had two sons and two daughters. After Mrs. Bennett's death, her husband erected as a memorial to her, Bennett Hall, one of the group of buildings of the Woman's College. His second wife, to who he was married on the 27th of September 1894, was Miss Elizabeth HARWOOD. Bennett Memorial Church, in whose interest Mr. Bennett is an active worker, is a memorial to Allan BENNETT, one of his sons by his first wife.
Among the religious and philanthropic activities of Mr. Bennett are his services as trustee of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, trustee of Bennett Memorial Church, trustee of the Woman's College of Baltimore, treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the Woman's College, president of the Board of Trustees of the Home for the Aged, vice-president of the Maryland State Temperance Alliance and, for twenty-three years, superintendent of the Bennett Memorial Sunday School. He is an Odd Fellow and a Mason. He is treasurer of the Builders' Exchange, and of the Builders' Exchange Building Company. The Methodist Episcopal Church has given evidence of its appreciation of his sterling character by honoring him with a seat in the General Conference, the highest law-making body of the denomination.
Among the buildings of Baltimore which have been erected from the plans and under the direction of Mr. Bennett, and will stand as enduring monuments to thier builder, are the First Methodist Church at the corner of St. Paul and Twenty-Second Streets, and the noble group of stone buildings near it devoted to the work of the Woman's College of Baltimore; the St. Paul Street residence of President Goucher recently given by him to the Woman's College, one of the most perfectly finished mansions in the city; the large and substantial red brick building on North Howard Street, which as the Academy of Music, has burnished entertainments for more than one generation of Baltimoreans; and the beautiful house of worship of the Mt. Vernon Methodist Church.