Tuesday, December 10, 2019

1020 St. Paul Street: P&L's HQ

On St. Paul Street, just after the intersection of E. Chase Street, you will most likely miss an unassuming two-story building in the shadow of the old Algonquin Hotel. 
But you'd be missing something special. This little Art Deco-style building was the HQ of Palmer & Lamdin. It was designed by William Lamdin, a fact which was mentioned in his obituary in 1945. 
However, there was a building there as far back as 1893, as evidenced by the owner, Parks Fisher, being one of a number of residents asking the city to re-pave the road. A few years later a small terrier was lost and was requested to be returned to 1020 St. Paul. 
In the 1930's mention is made of the building being torn down, and the current building being erected. 

In 1940, it was awarded an architecture prize.
In 1972, the building was cited as one of the outstanding examples of Art Deco architecture in Baltimore in an article by the critic, John Dorsey in the Baltimore Sun Magazine. 

The building is still in use today, although looking a bit more forlorn than in days past. Baltimore Heritage took these pictures a few years ago. 
It would be great to have someone rescue this charming little building and return it to its former glory, steel casement windows and all!

Update: Here are some interior pictures, as it was apparently for rent last year. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Biltmore Country Club, Asheville, NC

In 1922, Edward Palmer received an interesting out-of-town commission. Mrs. Edith Vanderbilt, widow of George W. Vanderbilt acquired land for the town of Biltmore Forest from the Biltmore Estate in 1920. Included in the plans was a site for a country club. 
The now-historic clubhouse covers 47,495 square feet, and contains a club room, the main dining room, a private dining room, a grill room, casual and formal bars, a meeting room, a dining porch and terrace, the pro shop, a fitness center, locker rooms AND nineteen guest bedrooms. 
The noted architect, Walter Schamu, had a chance to visit the Biltmore CC on a recent trip to North Carolina and was kind enough to share his pictures with me. 
And here are a few other images I swiped off the internet. 
And an old postcard from the 1920's. 
Biltmore Forest CC is a private, members-only, invitation-only club, so pictures of it are pretty scarce!

Monday, November 18, 2019

On the Market: 225 Wendover Road

When I was putting together the catalogue raisonné for Palmer & Lamdin, I was surprised at how many houses they designed on Wendover Road. There are at least ten for which I have documentation. It looks like No. 225 has just gone on the market. 
One of the most charming things about this house is the gorgeous and typically Palmeresque front entrance. 
Unlike a lot of houses in Guilford, this one isn't overwhelmingly huge! It's four bedrooms and is filled with lots of light. There are two, possibly three sunrooms (I WISH they would add floor plans of houses!).
When you look at the aerial view, there are sunrooms on both sides of the house and possibly another on the back of the house.
The whole house has been recently revitalized and renovated and there are a lot of new light fixtures, etc. 
It looks like there's a sun room off the back of the house on the second floor, but again, hard to tell from the pictures. 
Even though parking isn't an issue here, there's a stand-alone garage, which is great. 
It also looks like there is a patio on the rear of the house. That fountain reminds me of another P&L house I wrote about... can't remember which one though!
The house is four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, and is on the market for $749,000. The listing information is here.

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Northway Apartments: A Long Saga with an Unhappy Ending

Since the early 1920's, the Northway Apartment, has stood on North Charles Street and Bishops Road. It's set back from a small park, with beautiful classical designs and stepped back sections. Urns adorn the corners to give it an air of elegance. The ground floor is lit by beautiful double-height Palladian windows. The lobby was filled with elaborate mill- and plaster-work. It was an address to be coveted, and many families from Guilford and Roland Park moved there when they downsized, and families from the counties used it as their pied à terre.
My sources tell me that this was once a place of grace and charm, with huge apartments, designed to look like Guilford homes. They had front and rear entrances, copious details including cedar closets, french doors, and residents who lived the life of elegance and faded grandeur. The lobby boasted Art Deco details, and plaster motifs including seahorses and flying geese.
Right from its start, there were problems with this building. Actually, even before it was built, the neighbors objected strenuously to it being built, because it was so out of scale for the area. But after going to the Supreme Court, the building was allowed to go forward.
In the early years, the newspapers were filled with stories of socialites who were entertaining in their Northway apartments, or traveling from or returning to the Northway. There was even a very salacious story about a young woman who had just finished a conversation from the "house phone booth" with the man whom she'd sued for alienation of affections, when she collapsed from being poisoned. 
As the Northway approached its middle age, it was bought and sold several times, once twice within one summer. The Knott family purchased it to help diversify their portfolio, and then a string of LLC's and absentee landlords bought it. 

In the 1970's, the Sunpapers are filled with back and forth court cases between the tenants and the owners. No heat or hot water? Then no rent is paid. Citations from the City's housing department are numerous, but neither addressed nor paid. At one point, when once again, the heat and hot water were off, it took the city four days to work through all of the paper trails to find the owners and get them to fix the problems.
After a proposal to turn the Northway into "upscale" senior living residences, it was sold for "luxury student living." Sadly, the Northway has now been hacked to pieces, all of the graceful design elements have been torn out, and worst of all, the beautiful windows, including huge Palladian ones, have been replaced by tacky white vinyl ones, with snap in dividers. Sickening.
The building originally had 94 apartments, but now the new owners, "The Academy on Charles" list it as having 328 "beds," the apartments having been sub-divided into "suites" with numerous students living there. (Not sure how many options there are... 3,214?)
They have basically taken a two bedroom apartment and subdivided it into four bedrooms. And each bedroom rents for $1500+ a month!
But it's upscale! Chic hardwood-style floors! Luxurious! Klassy! World-Class Features... except for the ones they tore out. However, I am not seeing any sign of a "gourmet" kitchen!
There was an incident where members of the JHU lacrosse team went on a rampage in the lobby and caused more than $10,000 worth of damage, and stories of huge parties being held on the terraces, much to the annoyance of the residents of the neighboring St. James Apartments. There was also a sexual assault in one of the elevators. So I guess they're not really all that klassy.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Norwood Road & Court: A Hidden Gem

Tucked away on the north side of Guilford is the tiny Norwood Court, as well as Norwood Road which leads to it. As with some of the other roads in Guilford, you really have to hunt to find it. The Court is not even marked, and if you didn't know better, you'd think it was a driveway. 

Palmer designed two of the houses on Norwood Road, as well as all of the houses on Norwood Court. This is 4406 and
this is 4410.
The houses on the Court are all of a similar style to bring cohesion to this very small area. Their entrances are on the side, leaving the front as massed windows that make a sunporch. 
One of the issues with Norwood is that it backs directly onto Cold Spring Lane, and as with other projects, Palmer wanted to create a border delineating the edge of the neighborhood. 
The Court loops away from Cold Spring, so the backs are to that busy street, and there is no access from there. Of course, there was just Cold Spring Lane in 1914 when these houses were built, not Old Cold Spring, which was replaced, in sections, by now-Cold Spring Lane. 
I would have driven down little Norwood Court,
but I was being looked at rather suspiciously by a woman of similar age as I, and driving the exact same car! If you know me, you know she was correct in her assumption that I was up to no good!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

4407 Bedford Place

Bedford Place is one of those tricky roads in Guilford. You think you know where it is, but you actually don't. Guilford's system of one-way streets and dead ends don't help.
From the real estate website: Spotless condition - uniquely designed home by Palmer-Lamdin. 
This home has all of the possible charm one could want in a city home: beautiful stonework, carved doors,
canopy arches, hand-wrought iron fixtures. Living room with large fireplace; living room, den, family room with French doors to a private garden.
Gated driveway.
Gourmet kitchen. Separate teen's suite/maid's room. Whole house generator.
The house sold in January of 2017 for $639,000.