John W. Garrett, president of the B&O Railroad, bought this 1857 Italianate country house in 1878 for his son Thomas, who quickly put his mark on it, making it his personal museum, filled with his collections of books, coins, and porcelain. His son John, who chose a life in the diplomatic corps over the railroad, and his wife Alice, expanded the house beginning in the late 19th century. It soon became Baltimore's premier center of entertainment, a place where internationally known artists and musicians could rub elbows with statesmen, industrialists, and the social elite. The house today showcases the many sides of the Garretts: their love of art and architecture, their passion for collecting books and beautiful things, their love of travel. The Gilded Age mansion is filled with Tiffany glass, Asian vases, netsuke and inro, and paintings and drawings by Picasso, Modigliani, and Degas. The centerpiece has to be the Leon Bakst–designed theater. It may have been built as a temporary diversion, but the brightly stenciled walls, black floor, and set pieces comprise the world's only surviving Bakst-designed theater. One particularly touching room is the den left as it was when John and his brothers hung out with their father. It's the 19th-century version of a man-cave. Continuing the Garrett's tradition of welcoming budding artists into their home, the house appoints artists-in-residence and exhibits their works as well as the many objects given to the museum over the years. The restored kitchen is now open to the public, returned to the style Alice would have recognized—if she ever went in the kitchen. Tours are offered on the hour, and last about an hour and 15 minutes. The formal gardens should be visited as well.