Uplands is a 42-room Victorian-style mansion that was constructed in the western fringes of Baltimore, Maryland in 1850. It was later the home of Mary Frick Garrett Jacobs, a socialite, and philanthropist who divided her time between her numerous residences in Mount Vernon or Uplands during the winter months or at Whiteholme in Newport (Rhode Island), Bar Harbor, Deer Park, or at Uplands during the warmer months. A staff of 17 servants and 18 laborers transported her trunks and belongings as they moved from place to place according to their seasonal and social calendars.

Mary Jacobs died in 1936, leaving behind an estate worth $5.5 million to her husband. She had willed the Uplands estate and $1,000,000 to the Protestant Episcopal Church, although none of the principal funds could be used for the rehabilitation, construction, or maintenance of Uplands. Additionally, the will stated that the house should be modernized with electricity as it was still lighted by gas and stuccoed.

In her will, Jacobs desired Uplands to be transformed into “a home for lonely churchwomen, unable to provide, in whole or part, for their own maintenance and support.” She specified that no religious services could be held in the home except by a clergyman in good standing with the Protestant Episcopal Church. The conversion of Uplands into a home for the elderly was delayed as the Church awaited for interest to build from the principal, and because of government restrictions, material shortages, and cost inflations as a result of Pearl Harbor and World War II.   series of wartime fires took numerous lives in elderly care homes, which led to changes in building materials and fireproofing standards nationwide. Additionally, the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Maryland disagreed that Uplands would be a suitable site for the aged as it required extensive rehabilitation suitable for use by the elderly.

Eventually, it was agreed upon to utilize Uplands as an aged home which required the replacement of scalloped clapboarding with stucco and the construction of a fireproof annex connected to the original residence via a glass-enclosed passageway. The new building contained 36 single bedrooms and an infirmary while the original structure was renovated to host a dining room, living room, library, chapel, solarium, kitchen, and living quarters for the staff. The new Uplands Home for Church Women admitted its first residents in 1952.

Uplands in 1986
A view of Uplands in 1986. Photograph by Patrick Sandor for the Evening Sun on August 28, 1986.

In November 1984, the decision was made to relocate the 30 residents of Uplands to Fairhaven, a full-service retirement community near Sykesville and by late 1986, Uplands had been vacated and the property sold to New Psalmist Baptist Church. The church had been meeting at a former Presbyterian church at Franklin and Cathedral streets that it had acquired in 1978, but it had become overcrowded with room for just 1,000 worshippers.

In October 1993, the city approved the construction permit of a $7.5 million church for New Psalmist Baptist, which was designed to accommodate 2,000 persons and be connected to Uplands. The new sanctuary opened in 1996. Within a year, the Church was forced to hold three services on Sundays and another on Saturday night to accommodate the crowds.

In mid-2004, New Psalmist Baptist decided upon the relocation to a 33-acre parcel at Seton Business Park as part of a broader $200 million redevelopment effort by the city to redevelop the Uplands neighborhood with 1,100 affordable housing units. The congregation opened its new five-building campus, complete a 4,000-capacity sanctuary, at Seton in 2010. The former sanctuary at Uplands was later demolished, although the circa 1850 mansion was retained for possible reuse.

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