My husband Patrick and I would like to invite you to America’s Oldest Irish Pub. In 1999, we took over the operation of our family tavern. Among the numerous memorabilia and newspaper articles, we found an old photograph of the interior. That photo helped us make the decision to renovate. We stripped away the formstone and decades of other remodeling. In the process we saved much of the original property, including the original tin ceiling, the oak “stand up” bar, old marble, the brass cash register and numerous ornate cast iron table bases.
You will find two photographs on the Pratt Street wall. Both were taken the same day. The same men in the same clothes are in each photograph. The outside photo shows the “guys” standing on the Pratt Street side of the building. The tall man with his arms crossed is our Great, Great Uncle Patrick. The same year Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell were born (1847) he founded this business. He first opened on the other side of Schroeder Street at the corner of Lemon Street. Patrick moved to our current location in 1862 one year and one month before President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. It’s been continuously owned and operated by our family since 1847.
The longer you study the photo of the inside the more detail you notice. We were able to date the photo from some of the items in the photo. On the back bar is a Coca-Cola Jar, a statue, and a bust of a woman (guaranteed not to be the Queen of England). There are photographs of females on the mirrors. A cane leans in the corner as if its owner left it the day before. Chewing tobacco, cigar boxes, various liquors, the knobs to pull a pint of beer, a fern on the back bar, and the original brass cash register still sitting in the same place, the list goes on. We originally dated the photo about 1870. But when our brother Mike was rewiring the place he opened the tin ceiling to find that the lights in the photo were both gas and electric, that with the cash register and beer brand, puts the date of the photo closer to 1890. The man behind the bar is our Great Uncle Jim. In the outside photo he is wearing an apron. Uncle Pat is sitting on the bar holding up a goblet.
"Patrick's", was first known as Patrick Healy’s then Nolan’s and finally about 1904 it became "Rowley's" (our last name). Rowley's has always been a unique and quirky Tavern. For the last 50 (of our 166) years it has been licensed to sell Beer and Wine seven days a week. Rowley's did not have a sign, a pinball machine, a dartboard, a jukebox, a pool table or any gaming machine of any kind. There was no TV The last improvement to the property was when "formstone" (a type of stucco) was applied to the exterior walls in the 1950's. in the bar until December of 1976. Food was given away not sold. There was no telephone in the bar. The original phone listing for Delia Rowley, our grandmother who lived upstairs was still valid until 2011. Delia died in 1974 but her phone listing lived on! Rowley’s wouldn't open if it were; too hot, too cold or too wet. For about 25 years before we took it over, when it opened, it was only in the evening. Rowley's never opened on St. Patrick's Day. They didn't like to see the Irish making fools of themselves on a 'Holy Day'.
Rowley's clientele consisted of people from all over the metro area, many of whom lived in the area at one time. Artisans, Craftsmen, Magicians, University Professors, Police Officers, Lawyers, Salesmen, and Factory Workers could be found expressing themselves on common ground. But no matter how heated the conversations, bad manners or obscenities were never tolerated. Patrick’s holds true to that tradition.
The media has honored Patrick’s. We thank: The New York Times for referred to us as “A Jewel of the city, on Pratt Street.” Baltimore’s WHERE MAGAZINE for choosing us as their “Editor’s Pick” and calling us, “Baltimore’s best Bistro”. THE DAILY RECORD put us on their cover and gave us a three-page article with color photos. WBAL Radio’s Beltway Gourmet, Doug Roberts said our “Crab cakes were beyond great! You MUST try the pork”! WBFF TV and WMAR TV have both included us in their news broadcast and recommended us. The Daily Record profiled our business. Baltimore Magazine showcased us in an excellent article. The City Paper for declaring in September 2003 that Patrick’s had, “Baltimore’s Best Crab Cakes”. In the August 2007 issue of the renown Baltimore Magazine Patrick's was named, "Baltimore's Best Irish Pub". The inflight magazines of SouthWest Air and JetBlue Airlines named Patrick's of Pratt Street "Baltimore's Home for Great Crab Cakes".
We hope, when you are in Baltimore, you'll stop in. We'll try to make your experience an enjoyable one.