Monday, April 29, 2019

Bancroft Road, Baltimore

As I was looking up another P&L house, I spotted several addresses on Bancroft Road. I knew a rather elegant couple who lived with their children on Bancroft Road, but I hadn't really thought about where it was or what was there. 
So, on an overcast Sunday afternoon, I put Bancroft Road into my GPS and headed over there. For those in Baltimore, it's located diagonally between Park Heights Avenue and Cross Country Boulevard. The actual name of the area is Bancroft Park due to a huge tract of woodland behind the road.
The styles of homes include Colonial Revival, Four-Square with Colonial Revival details, Tudor Revival, Spanish Eclectic, French Eclectic, both symmetrical and towered, and Modern. 

Apparently, the entire original plan, designed by the Olmsted Landscape was never fully implemented, mainly because the Bancroft Park Company thought there was too much wasted space with the wide roads and large lots. So all that was built was Bancroft Road itself.
The houses have a set-back of at least 50 feet and there were building restrictions similar to those of Roland Park. Unfortunately, the streets aren't marked on this early 1900's plan.

The houses are now mostly occupied by Orthodox families and some are well-kept and sadly, others are not. The area is in the Baltimore Eruv, which is an urban area enclosed by a wire boundary, which symbolically extends the private domain of Jewish households into public areas permitting activities within it that are normally forbidden in public on the Sabbath. 
This is a fascinating article on the area which includes some interesting history, as well as some personal memories. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

P&L at Friends

As I was scrolling through old issues of the Roland Park Company's publication, Gardens, Houses, and People, I came across a surprising photograph. But first, some background. 
Friends School in Baltimore has a long history here. It was founded in 1781 as part of the Quaker Meeting on Asquith Street in the Jonestown section of Baltimore's downtown. In 1800, a school opened in conjunction with the Meeting.
Fast forward to 1925, when the school bought a parcel of land on North Charles Street between Homeland and Roland Park. It appears that the lower- and middle-schools relocated from Bolton Hill at that time, and the high school moved in 1936. 
On the campus, there's a building that houses the pre-primary school, and before that, it was a field house of sorts for the various sports played at Friends. It sits atop a hill overlooking the playing fields at the front, and the northern section of Blythewood road at the back. It's quite a handsome building and very well-sited on the land. 
Mottu & White were the architects for the buildings at Friends. This firm also designed many houses in Roland Park and Guilford. Ziger-Snead has done their more recent buildings. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

P&L On the Market: 5209 Springlake Way

Palmer & Lamdin properties occasionally come on the market, but they're not always recognized as such, which I think is a mistake on the part of the realtor. For architectural aficionados, owning a P&L house is quite a coup.

This house sits perpendicular to the street on Springlake Way in Homeland, perhaps to take advantage of a narrow lot. From the realtor's description:
An amazing opportunity to live in a truly one-of-a-kind Homeland residence. This Palmer & Lamdin-designed home boasts the most magnificent details. Six levels of living space give this home a feel of grandeur.
A beautiful foyer with detailed paneling and mouldings opens to the most gracious living room with gorgeous hardwood floors,
a stunning wood-burning fireplace
and French doors which open to two patios.
To me, one of the most interesting things about this house, is how similar houses are variously described in early adverts for these.
Sometimes they are called Creole Cottages, sometimes Charleston-style houses, sometimes Southern Colonial, and sometimes Monterey style. Most of them are brick which has been painted white, and they all have upper and lower porches. This house was built in 1935 and has three bedrooms, and two full- and two half-baths. It overlooks the lakes in Homeland, as you can see below.

Here is the link to the real estate listing.  

Monday, April 15, 2019

Palmer Does Dundalk. Really!

Certainly, when you think about Palmer and Lamdin, your mind immediately goes to Roland Park, Homeland and Guilford. But not to Dundalk. 
In 1917, Edward Palmer was asked to create a village out of 1,000 acres of farmland just beyond the eastern edge of the city. The land had been bought by the Bethlehem Steel Company to house their workers who had families. Another community, St. Helena, across Dundalk Avenue, was built to house bachelors. The new development enabled the Steel Company's expanding workforce to live closer to the mill, reduce commute time and absenteeism, and avoid the plant's noise and pollution. 
Palmer envisioned a range of housing types that would be occupied by all classes of workmen. And unlike most grid developments which didn't provide stores or parks, Dundalk provided space for shops, offices,
a community hall, transportation hub, recreational opportunities and a school.

Influences from Palmer's work on Roland Park can be seen in the housing stock in Dundalk.
There was a limit to building forms: only three or four basic plans were used. All of the houses have a combination of elements: steep roof slopes with a combination of gable, jerkin-head, shed and flared shapes.
These motifs were combined to produce a variety of distinct housing types, fulfilling the government's mandate of expedience and low cost. 

Shortly after construction on Dundalk began, the First World War ended and building was slowed.
However, the government recognized the need for ever greater amounts of steel, and took over the project. The Emergency Fleet Corporation managed the project to its completion. 
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of the famous landscape architect, was put in charge of the newly-formed Town Planning Division.
He followed the popular Garden City planning principles using curved streets, mixed housing densities and commercial and civic areas. 
Between 1918-1920, more than 800 stucco houses with slate roofs were built. In addition to a few single-family and semi-detached houses,
there were a number of blocks of row houses with Palmer's signature advancing and receding facades, and varied roof-lines.
The houses in the "Old Dundalk" section of the area, all have names referring to ships, including Shipway, Friendship, Portship, Kinship, Newship and others.
Today, many of the houses have been altered with additions including enclosed entries, awnings, new window styles, porches, 
asphalt roofs and aluminum siding, most of this work can be quickly reversed. However, I did see one house with a third floor addition (wonder how that happened?!?!?). 
These houses do not come on the market frequently, but when they do, the new owners are restoring them, realizing what a treasure they now own.
In addition to Dundalk, P&L also designed a community in Wilmington, Delaware for the workers at DuPont. I just have to find a chunk of time to take a field trip there. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Spotted in the Wild

I gave a lecture at the Historical Society of Harford County, and decided to drive back into the city via Route 1, instead of I-95 and the Beltway. 

The traffic was pretty bad, so I was going slowly, and suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a familiar sight. All of the characteristics were there: the swoop of the roof-line, the corner front entrance, the varied brickwor, and the turret. 

Before I could grab my phone and take a picture, the traffic started moving again. So I checked Google Earth and found a street-view image of the house. 

It is in the 8800 block of Belair Road (or Blair Road, if you're speaking in the vernacular), right next to the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church. What do you think? P&L or not?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Dumbarton, Baltimore

A few years ago, some friends mentioned that they lived in Dumbarton, and I wasn't really sure what they were talking about. They explained that it was an old neighborhood, just north of the city, and that many of the houses had been designed by Palmer & Lamdin!
I was shocked. I had never heard of this neighborhood that's not even 10 miles from my house.
I decided to drive out there to check it out and fell in love with it. 
Dumbarton was originally a Jewish neighborhood with many of the city's merchants living there. Because neighborhoods like Guilford and Roland Park were restricted in the first half of the 20th century, the homes there were not available to them. But the architects of these homes were hired to build similar houses in the more Jewish neighborhood. 
When I first showed some of these houses to a friend, he swore that this was Guilford. All of the P&L elements are there to see: swooped roof-line, turrets, mixed materials, projecting and receding facades, dovecotes and round windows, as well as corner entries.
Dumbarton is just north of the city, between Park Heights and Seven Mile Lane.
Sadly, someone painted over the stone and brick, and then added red asphalt roof tiles to this house, so now it looks like a faux Disney castle. You can see the original flare of the roof-line on the turret.
This house is on the market now, and you can see some of the original details in the listing pictures. Just avert your eyes from some of the newer features.