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. 

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