Canby, Gilpin & Co.

Digger Odell Publications 2007

Henry B. Gilpin

Few men in Baltimore enjoy greater prominence than Henry B. Gilpin. He is closely identified with the socia! as well as the business life of the city, and there is hardly any one whose pursuits bring him in contact with citizens of affairs to whom Mr. Gill, n not personally known. Aside from the acquaintances made in the ordinary course of an active career, there is that in Mr. Gilpin's disposition which attracts persons to him so that the number of his intimate friends is far greater than that of most persons inside or outside the ranks of business. Mr. Gilpin would be popular in any event, though of course the possession of ample means and the maintenance of extensive connections with numerous of the private and public institutions naturally center attention upon him.

Mr. Gilpin may be said to represent the best traditions of commercial life in Baltimore. He is cultured without being pedantic or given to pride of intellect; he dispenses a generous hospitality, is liberal in his contributions to benefactions, and has the qualities that make him a capital host. Nevertheless he is entirely without ostentation, readily accessible, companionable. and of unfailing courtesy, regardless of the station of those who approach him. He has a quiet manner and acts with deliberation, but will on occasion show great firmness. He never permits himself to become ruffled and has a word of encouragement for all. A kind and considerate employer, he enjoys the respect and es teem of his employees to an unusual degree. Self-interest has no place in his character, and the measure of his hospitality is not influenced by the question whether those whom he has as guests can make adequate return or not. Mr. Gilpin was born April 3, 1853, being the son of the late Bernard Gilpin, who went to Baltimore from Montgomery county, Md., and with the late Mr. Canby, in the year of the son's birth. founded the wholesale drug firm of Canby, Gilpin & Co. The young man was educated at the Friends' School, conducted by an eminent pedagogue. Professor Lamb, and at that time located just across the street from the present habitation of the drug firm. The school was one of the best of its day and its pupils were sent out admirably equipped to take up the battle of life, the purpose of the institution being rather to impart a general education than to specialize. In course of time Henry B. Gilpin took his place in his father's firm, which had gradually built up a large trade in powdered drugs for percolation and in ground spices. This business eventually overshadowed in importance the wholesale drug, end, and the house acquired an extended reputation for the purity and high quality of its products, a reputation which it continues to hold.

In 1872 Thomas V. Canby retired from the business. the successors retaining the name of Canby, Gilpin & Co. In 1886 William Canby also withdrew and the firm then became Gilpin, Langdon & Co. The firm which in that year was located in Light street, near German. was entirely burnt out, and commodious quarters were secured at the northwest corner of Light and Lombard streets, with another warehouse in Light street, some doors away, which contained the drug milling machinery, one of the finest plants in the country. The year was made further notable for the young man by his ad mission into the firm as a member, to become the senior partner in the big concern on the death of his father, which occurred in the nineties.

On April 8, 1901, another fire caused extensive damage to the wholesale establishment. and after a brief occupancy of temporary quarters the firm se cured the finely constructed and' most commodious structure erected especially for the Vogeler Drug Company, manufacturers of St. Jacob's Oil, and other preparations, in Lombard street. near Howard. There it has been ever since, with plenty of room for all departments and prospering under the son not less than it had under the direction of the father. In 1904, Mr. Gilpin, desiring to find more time to look after his other interests, formed two corporations, one of them, known as Gilpin, Langdon & Co., the name of the old firm, taking over the drug milling business, while the other, the H. B. Gilpin Company, assumed charge of the wholesale drug end. Both are housed under the same roof and work together. though they are separate concerns. Mr. Gilpin holds the presidency of both, but is ably assisted by trusted men, who have grown up in the business and are thoroughly familiar with all of its details. In consideration of faithful services twelve of them were given a substantial interest. At the head of affairs in the absence of Mr. Gilpin, is Charles F. Husted.

Mr. Gilpin's standing as a leading business man of Baltimore is further attested by the fact that he is a director in the Western National Bank, and of various other corporations. His public spirit is shown by his incumbency of a place as a member of the Water Board, where his counsel and wise conservatism are of the greatest value. Among the philanthropic affiliations is to be mentioned his membership in the board of trustees of the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital. an institution for the treatment of mental diseases. But the strictly professional element