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. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Getting to the Source of Things

I thought it might be interesting to explain how I am finding my information on all of these Palmer & Lamdin houses. 

My original source was a listing of projects, created in 1982 by McLane Fisher, Charles Nes and Carson Cornbrooks. It's titled "The Architectural Firm of Edward L. Palmer, Jr. and Its Successor Firms". This is at the University of Baltimore's library, which holds most of the P&L records. I will be spending some time at the UB Library later this summer, looking at plans and papers. I can't wait!
There is a link to this on the sidebar. It is a non-searchable PDF, which I converted to a Word document, so that I could search it. It didn't convert very well, but it was good enough for what I wanted. However, one issue with the document is that the early projects in Guilford are only listed by lot and block.
Sometimes the name of the person who commissioned the house is given, which leads me to my next step. I go to the Polk's city directory for Baltimore for the years close to the time the house was built. There are electronic copies on line up to 1923. And there's Ammidon, with the exact address! 
Ames was also listed, but just on Charlcote Place, without a house number.
So these two pieces of information confirm which house Palmer designed, and when he designed it.

But then I also checked for Palmer, Lamdin, Palmer & Lamdin and other combinations of the firm's name. And I found this. 
So, if I end up not finding the address of Dr. Ames' house, I can drive around Charlcote and see which house is brick, with a stone foundation and a tile roof. 

In, there were a load of other mentions about Palmer and/or Lamdin designing houses, sometimes with a name, other times with only a general street name or other location.
Because most of the streets are not long streets, I can drive up and down, and pretty much figure out which house he designed. There are clues in the articles, most of which were only a paragraph or two long.

Another resource is Medusa, Maryland's Cultural Resource Information System. 
I checked each neighborhood where I knew there were P&L houses, and in the case of Homeland, each house was listed, along with its architect. Not so much for Roland Park or Guilford, though. 

But, as part of their holdings of the Roland Park Corporation, Johns Hopkins has  digitized 99% of the catalogue of the Roland Park Magazine.
These begin in the 1920's and go through until 1960. I had to search volume by volume for mentions of P&L, but found a number of houses about which I had not known. 
P&L was mentioned in articles, plans, and advertisements in almost every issue of the Roland Park magazine for the first decade, when they were building Homeland. 

Finally, Google is my friend. I have a Google alert for P&L, for when their houses come on the market. I think its smart for real estate agents to mention that the house is P&L because they have held their looks and their value over the decades. 
It's interesting to see how the exteriors of these houses have remained intact, but about half of the interiors have changed. 

To keep this all organized, I have a huge spreadsheet of what I've found, where I found the documentation what the address is, where the house is located and other notes.
I am cataloging the house in the section of this website called "Catalogue RaisonnéI am trying to update the catalogue with new buildings as I find them, and I am up to almost 200 specific addresses. I know that there are 200 buildings in Wawaset, Delaware alone, but I have only counted that as one entry, as I did with the "Ship" street houses in Dundalk

I hope that this helps you understand the work that goes into researching each entry in my catalogue! And, as always, if you know of a P&L house that I don't have listed, please let me know!!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

ELP: A Cathedral Street Re-Do

Driving through Mount Vernon at lunch, I passed by one of the really classic buildings in Baltimore, and remembered that I'd seen a mention of Edward Palmer renovating the building in about 1923. Of course, I had to drive around the block to get the perfect view of the building. 
No. 702 Cathedral Street has an interesting history. It was designed by Neirnsee & Nielson for Congressman William J. Albert who was head of Sanity Sanitary Fair, an early version of the Red Cross.* However, another source says the building was designed by Louis L. Long. According to Jacques Kelly, the house had secret panels, a curving staircase, and grand salons. It also was host to special guests including President Abraham Lincoln and Oscar Wilde.

From Albert, the house went to John Irving Griffiss and his wife, Margaret Abell, who was part of the wealthy Abell family which published the Baltimore Sun. 

In 1923, the property was acquired by Dominique Arrolbia, then proprietor of Marconi Hotel & Restaurant. His plan was to open Maison Domenique as a place for dining and dancing, much to the horror of the residents of the quiet Mount Vernon Place. They were already up in arms about the Severn Apartments which towered over the buildings on the square.
But the Sun said, "The soft strains of a string orchestra will soothe the slumber of the dwellers there. Calls for automobiles and taxicabs will be heard in the small hours, and the air will resound with laughter."

Edward Palmer was engaged to prepare the plans, which included redecorating the interior, and installing kitchens and a refrigeration plant. The south drawing room, which ran the length of the building, was to be used for dancing and the north drawing room was for dining. The large garage in the rear of the house was to be converted to a tea room and the yard would become a tea garden.  

Apparently, Maison Domenique never came to fruition and the building was sold to the Christian Science Church, which demolished the garage and garden, and added an 400-seat auditorium, complete with a massive 811-pipe organ.

After the Church closed, Agora Publishing bought the building to add to their portfolio of properties in Mount Vernon. It's currently used for their Health Sciences Institute.
They restored the building to its former glory and use it for office and meeting space. 

*Someone told me that 702 was not designed by Neirnsee & Nielson, and not designed for the Alberts. But since I've seen nothing that indicates otherwise, I am leaving this here.

Change of Address

One of the things that I am discovering during the process of searching for P&L residences, is that the addresses have changed over the years. 
I first noticed this when I saw some addresses on Roland Avenue listed as 200 and 300 numbers, when I know that they are now 4600 and 5200. I think that the change came about when the city annexed the land that now makes up the northern part of the city. 

You can track the annexation by looking at two of the main roads in Baltimore: North Avenue, and Northern Parkway.
FYI, numbering for most blocks in Baltimore starts at the intersection of Charles and Baltimore Streets, which bisect the city into east and west, north and south. 

So, 5200 Roland Avenue would be 52 blocks north of Baltimore Street. However, there are some oddities, like my old street, St. John's Road. East of Roland Avenue, the houses followed the "west of Charles" block numbering, but west of Roland, the numbering restarted at 1. This advert was from 1930.
If you look carefully at the map above, you can see block numbers listed on some streets. Roland Avenue shows the blocks starting at 100, where it is now 4600. 

Another street which has changed is Somerset Road. P&L designed a house which was listed as No. 11 Somerset, but that number no longer exists.
Using my ace detective skills, I figure that the house is six houses in from a corner, and on a side with other odd-numbered houses. But, now I need to find which corner!
And then there is this house on Somerset from 1913, that I will need to find as well.