Wednesday, August 21, 2019

In the Wild: 2301 Ken Oak Road

I was searching in Newspapers.com for some information about a P&L house, and I noticed that Lamdin's name had been mis-spelled as Lambdin. It's an easy mistake, but I thought that I should search on Palmer & Lambdin and see what came up. And I hit a gold mine of new information!
One of the houses mentioned was at 2301 Ken Oak Road. So I headed over to check it out and wasn't entirely satisfied with what I saw... mainly because there was a fence and a lot of bushes blocking my view. Hrumph. But I understood, as there's a bus stop literally right in front of the property.
After I sulked for a minute or two, I drove around to the other side of the house and that's where I found the address and what look like the front of the house. 
We are assuming the large, windowless section on the left is a garage... but it's odd that there are no windows, and you'd have to enter it from the far left, not the rear, as there look to be trees abutting that section. I checked Google Street-View and there's an alley running along the left side of the house, confirming it is indeed a garage. But it still needs windows.

There is not much information about the house, except this from a recent Zillow listing. 
Beautiful, one-of-a-kind greystone (Butler quarry), English-style home, designed by Palmer-Lamdin firm, and built in 1937,with no expense spared. Original blueprints and construction contact on hand. Two working fireplaces, spacious living area, lots of book shelves, screened outdoor gazebo, and large in-ground pool, many mature oaks, poplars, dogwoods, azaleas, rhododendrons and native plant species.
If you look closely, you can see the P&L signature "double-diamond" chimney on the right. This house is later in their careers, but it retains all of the charm of their earlier work.

There is not much information about the house, but I did find this 1975 real estate ad for it.

Interestingly, no price is listed. And I am not sure I'd really term this as Tudor, maybe English Country Cottage style.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

100 Upnor Road: One of Baltimore's Beauties

Although this house is in a prominent location, it's actually a little hard to find. It's located just across from the Cathedral on Charles Street at the corner of Upnor Road and the property is surrounded by huge old foliage.
It is unusual in that it is constructed  mainly of stone, not the usual brick, or brick and stone combination that P&L favored. While there is some brick, it's mainly used as an accent to the stone.


100 Upnor first is mentioned in the Roland Park Magazine in 1931, and there is an interior image of the house. 
Mr. & Mrs. J. Murdoch Dennis were probably the original owners of 100 Upnor Road. His name appears to be spelled as either Murdoch or Murdock, depending on the publication. In 1916, he purchased a lot in Guilford at the  but said he wasn't going to build right away and was deciding on an architect. In 1917, they are living at 1226 St. Paul Street. But in 1919 the couple seems to have rented a house at 4102 Greenway for a "period of years." In 1920, they'd purchased property on "Charles Street Extended aka Charles Street Avenue" and were living there into 1923. By 1924, he'd purchased a house at 13 (or 17 depending on the publication) E. Eagar Street. in 1926, he buys a house at University & 39th Street, only to sell it a year or so later. 
In June of 1929, there is a mention of Dennis acquiring a property on Charles & Upnor, across from the "proposed Catholic Cathedral."
Around 1929, which is when it was built, it looks like the Dennis family moved to the house at Upnor Road.
For all of the newspaper squibs about each and every move, there is scant information about the Dennis family moving into the house at Charles and Upnor Road. By 1936, they'd moved again, to an apartment at 100 W. University Parkway and had leased their house. 100 West was a posh apartment house with huge apartments.

The daughter, Louise, was making her debut in 1936, so you think the family would have kept their huge house so they could have parties for her... or maybe they were short of cash from the debut and needed to downsize!

Now to the house itself! There are loads of P&L signatures on the house.
The front door, the location of which is hard to discern, features the mix of stone, with interesting brickwork. 

The court yard is loaded with details and is a perfect place for spending time outside. The oeil-de-boeuf window probably provides some light to the attached garage.
Above the fountain niche, there is a great window, and above that, there's a dovecote, a P&L signature!
On the Charles Street side of the house, there are a set of three French doors leading to a large bluestone terrace. There are inset niches on either side of the doors. 
The terrace looks over a huge expanse of lawn and is protected from prying eyes and the constant traffic by huge old trees. I love the lattice-work sunroom on the right.
I am not exactly sure whether this property is on the market right now, but you can read about it here.

Friday, August 2, 2019

2601 Talbot Road: A Little Help From My Friends!

When I was searching for obscure P&L references, I came across an article in 1914 saying that Palmer had designed a house in Windsor Hills, a neighborhood on the (now infamous) West Side of Baltimore.
The house was built for Julian S. Stein, who is the first cousin of Gertrude Stein, and allegedly, her favorite! Stein was the owner of a prosperous banking company.

What was unusual was building the house in Windsor Hills, at that time, far from the city and fairly isolated, bordering the Gwynns Falls Ravine. It was and is heavily wooded and was used as a summer retreat with rooming houses and small inns. Most of the building was done between 1895 and 1929. You can read more about Windsor Hills here


The house Palmer designed for Julian Stein is described as a "California Ranch." From Julian's grand-daughter, comes this tidbit: My grandmother Rose Ellen was from California and family lore is that he had it built in the stucco style for her. 

In the Jacques Kelly's review of the book written for the 100th Anniversary of Windsor Hills, Stein's house is specifically mentioned,
and again in the HABS report, although at a different address.
(It's basically on a curved corner where several roads come together, so is it on Talbot, Queen Anne or Clifton?)

In the listing of houses in the HABS report, 2601 is completely mis-identified both to the year and the architect. 


So, while I knew the house was in Windsor Hills, I wasn't sure exactly where it was. Windsor Hills is quite heavily wooded and many of the houses are either above or below street level in this hilly neighborhood. 



I went to my go-to resource, Polk's City Directory for 1915, figuring that Stein might have moved to his new house by then. I found this:


Great! Except when I Googled the address, I could barely find Talbot Road, let along number twenty-two! So, I drove out there to look, but really couldn't see any of the houses well enough to figure out which was his. 


A bit of serendipitous Tweeting lead me in the right direction. With West Baltimore in the news, someone said what great housing stock there was, and mentioned the wonderful houses in Windsor Hills. I posted that I was surprised to see a Palmer & Lamdin house out there that I was hunting for, and mentioned that the numbers had changed, which made my search even trickier.

Matt Hankins came to the rescue with the Jacques Kelly article, and even better, a snippet of the contemporary Sanborn Fire Map, which showed the original and updated house numbers! B I N G O !
Armed with all of the information, I put 2601 Talbot Road into my GPS, and drove back out to Windsor Hills. As you can see by the map several images up, the roads all come together and as the GPS was telling me to turn right and bear left, I managed to miss Talbot Road completely... even looking at the street view of the house (below).
I finally found it, and started taking pictures. Google Street View has cameras mounted on a stand on the roof of their cars, but I am short, so with the nearly five-foot stone wall, mine aren't as good! This is actually a composite of a few images I took. 
It's a little difficult to see where the main entrance would have been, and I am thinking that the house has now been divided into sections.
You can see the layout of this house on the satellite view of the area.
And it sort of make sense that it's been subdivided into three units. It's a huge house with about an acre of land. There is also an "in-ground" garage along the edge of the long crenelated stone wall. 

While this house isn't typical of a Palmer house, it's interesting nevertheless. All in all, it was an adventure finding this house, and I never could have done it without a little help from my friends. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

203 Chancery Road


This has always been one of the P&L houses that I've admired for decades. I grew up in an old stone house, so stone houses have always caught my eye. 

It's so charming and so beautifully sited, just across from the Guilford Gateway Park. It's on an odd intersection of roads, almost like a "you can't get there from here" interchange. I am never quite sure I am going the right way.
This house looks unassuming at first glance, but then when you really study it,
you see the graceful swoop of the formerly copper roofs on the ground floor and the way the rain spouts emphasize the front door and vestibule and the windows. They also used that effect in other houses in Guilford.

There are some similar door/vestibule combinations in Guilford, no doubt designed by P&L. The vestibule opens to an arched doorway, with two side windows. Luckily, all of the original hard-wood floors and mill-work remain, as do the ceiling medallions.
The house has five bedrooms, including the master bedroom with an 18-foot ceiling, plus three baths and two half-baths.

In the Roland Park Gardens, Homes & People magazine in 1928, there were two mentions of this house. This was from March and was a cardboard mock-up of the house. The splotches are from the original picture in the magazine. 
In May, this little piece appeared.
As noted, Mr. Keyes was a model maker who did work for clients up and down the East Coast, including one of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC. He was President of the Architectural Club of Baltimore City in 1911. 

Interestingly, the Architectural Club was located at 847 Hamilton Terrace, which was just off Eutaw Street, where MedChi had its HQ for about 20 years. In 1909, MedChi opened its building on Cathedral Street and vacated Hamilton Terrace.

Regardless of the century or decade, this proves that everything in Baltimore is fewer than six degrees of separation. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

P&L on the Market: 5313 St. Albans Way

A few weeks ago, someone gave me the heads up on this property, and of course, I promptly forgot the address. So when this popped up on my Google alerts, I remembered it was the same house.
This house is first mentioned in the June 1931 issue of  the Roland Park magazine, as it appeared on the cover. 

Honestly, this could be any number of houses in Homeland, but the "story" on page 7 tells the story (briefly).

Sadly, it looks like the old cherry tree is gone, but there might be another one in its place.
There are still beautiful and lush gardens on the property, though.
The house has four bedrooms, plus a huge master bedroom suite,
with a wonderful terrace just outside a set of French doors. 

With a lot of these houses, it's hard to discern what's left of the original interior architecture and design. Of course, the kitchens and bathrooms are the first to be updated. 


However, it looks like they might have kept the original pantry and cabinets! Always a good thing. They also kept what look like the original casement windows.

This house is on the market for $714k and might possibly have a contract pending. You can see the full listing here

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Wyman Park Apartments

Not everyone could afford to live in one of Palmer & Lamdin's extravagant homes in Roland Park, Homeland or Guilford, but many still wanted to live in the suburbs of Baltimore. 

So, in 1921, ELP was commissioned to design an apartment house, originally to be called Stony Run Apartments. It was to be five stories high, and would occupy one-third of a four-acre site overlooking Johns Hopkins University. Although the building would have a lobby and a restaurant, it would be operated as an apartment house, not a hotel.
This was about the same time as ELP was planning the Roland Park Apartments, just a mile or so north. At some point between the original planning and the construction, the name was changed to the Wyman Park Apartments, which is the name it retains today. 
The frontage of the apartment house measured almost 300 feet long, and there was originally a loggia running across the ground level, as you can see in old pictures. Sadly, the front of the building looks like it has undergone a bad face-lift. 
The apartments ranged from one room to five rooms, and there was an early elevator service, complete with an elevator operator.
When visiting a friend there in the 1990's, I remember that she had a louvered front door, because there was no central air conditioning, and this helped with ventilation.
Luckily, the park-like setting of the Wyman Park Apartments has been retained, and its been home to thousands of Hopkins students since it's opening almost 100 years ago.
It is interesting to see an aerial view of the building, because it is hard to grasp the arrangement from the ground. 


I don't find this to be one of Palmer's better buildings, but it has stood the test of time.