Mount Vernon Place, one of the oldest surviving neighborhoods in Baltimore, is located just 10 blocks north of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. It has Mount Royal Avenue on the north, Mulberry Street on the south, Guilford Street on the east, and Howard Street on the west. This distinctive downtown location holds the treasures of mid-19th century architecture and gracious urban living. Mount Vernon traces its history back to early 19th century, when John Eager Howard and his heirs donated the land to become the site for the Washington Monument. This urban area is significant for fine architecture and public squares. The residential, commercial, and institutional buildings are among the most elaborate 19th- and early 20th- century structures in Baltimore. The area is dotted with ornate churches, art and historical museums, theaters, libraries, concert halls, and religious shrines. True to its role as the cultural center of Baltimore, Mt Vernon has been enjoying a continuing connection with arts since the inception of the Peabody Institute in 1857. This urban area is the home to some of the most dynamic cultural institutions in the city, which have joined to form the Mount Vernon Cultural District in 1996. The aim was to address the urban problems in the community and to improve the physical environment. A National Register Historic District, Mount Vernon Place encompasses four elegant European-style parks – East and West Mount Vernon Place, and North and South Washington Place. The Greek cross-shaped park area forms the setting for the Washington Monument, the first architectural memorial to George Washington – the first President and Commander-in-Chief of the United States of America. The Basilica of the Assumption, the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the U.S., is one of the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in the world. The Peabody Institute, one of the nation’s major sources of professionally trained musicians, is located at East Mount Vernon Place. The Maryland Historical Society, at West Monument Street, is the state's oldest cultural institution. Enoch Pratt Free Library serves as the public library for Baltimore City and the State Library Resource Center for all Maryland citizens. Walters Art Museum, the legacy of Henry and William Walters, exhibits 55 centuries of art in its recently renovated galleries. Center Stage, Baltimore's nationally celebrated hometown regional theater, presents a unique repertory of plays. Other prominent institutions in the area are the Baltimore School for the Arts, the Contemporary Museum, the Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, the Garrett Jacobs Mansion, and the Peabody Court Hotel.