Wednesday, August 21, 2019

In the Wild: 2301 Ken Oak Road

I was searching in 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.