In 1813, Lt. Col. George Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry, wanted a flag so large that it would be visible to the enemy from a distance. The government contracted a widowed flagmaker from Baltimore, Mary Pickersgill, for the undertaking. Using 400 yards of wool bunting, the flag was made with 15 alternating stripes of red and white, each two feet wide, with a blue union containing 15 stars, 2 feet across. Mary obtained permission from a local brewery to assemble the flag in their location. Mary received payment of $405.90 for her flag.
The Flag House in Baltimore, Maryland is preserved and dedicated to Mary's story. Her greatest creation survives and hangs at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.