Monday, September 30, 2019

Roland Park Apartments: A Baltimore Classic

When I was a child, one of my great aunties lived in an apartment which had a courtyard with a pond with huge goldfish. It was the Roland Park Apartments (RPA), which was designed by Palmer & Lamdin in about 1925. 
RPA was modeled in the fashion of a French renaissance chateau, representing early 20th century beaux arts architecture. 
The building is filled with gorgeous little (and big) details from the moment you enter through the front path,
with gardens on both sides and a lovely fountain. 
You enter the passageway, which is home to the manager's office and the post boxes, has two beautiful lanterns. 
The apartments (now condos) are housed in five connected five-story buildings, each with private elevators. There are 20 individual floor plans, each with unique architectural designs and decorative charms. Many of the apartments have sun porches and working fireplaces.
Most also have nine-foot ceilings with crown molding. The original details remain intact nearly 100 years later. 
In addition to the apartments, there is a huge car barn, that designed by Wyatt & Nolting in 1903, and served as the stables for the neighborhood.
As a child, I remember riding my bike through the car barn (before there were electronic doors) and imagining what it was like when it was stables. 

Between the main buildings and the garage is the original smokestack from the early heating system for the building. It's interesting to see this still here.
One of the main attractions of this building are the gardens which surround it. They are beautifully maintained and lush, even after no rain for nearly a month. 
The pond, which is the centerpiece of the courtyard, is so charming. You can also see Palmer's trademark swooped roofline in this image. Almost all of the apartments have a view of the courtyard, or they look out over the Baltimore Country Club and the Jones Falls Valley. 
As I mentioned, this place is filled with Palmer's signature details, like the roofline... But also the mix of stucco and brick, 
with an emphasis on a variety of bricks and brickwork styles.
There are also the signature nooks and crannies on the property. 

The signature downspouts are also evident here. 
Because there are five buildings, the entrances to each one echoes the design of the building and gives the illusion of the place being smaller and more private than it actually is. 
These historic photos indicate that the brick might have originally been painted the same color as the stucco!
Several months ago, there was a small piece in the New York Times' real estate section about one of the apartments currently on the market. You can read it, and see interior images here. You can also read about the building and its history here

Friday, September 27, 2019

St. Paul Court Apartments

As you zoom south on St. Paul Street, you might not notice the St. Paul Court Apartments, just south of 33rd Street on the right. It's a five-story building surrounding a center court with green lawn and fountains. And, it's a P&L building!
The planning began in 1924, with an announcement of the impending building in the Sun. 
Most of the apartments are one bedroom and one bathroom, with a living area and kitchen. Others are two bedrooms, with living area and walk-in closets. 
It was well-located between downtown and the inner suburbs, and on a main bus line, convenient for getting to your downtown office. As time went on, they became the place to have a pied-a-terre if you had a country house, or lived someplace else during the winters or summers. 
In 1924, the building changed hands. 
The courtyard, which is mentioned above, and in the name of the building, provides a nice space for outside living. 
It's now occupied mainly by students at Johns Hopkins, which is a block or two away. It has laundry and other services on the premise, so that's a convenience, as are the shops across the street. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

On the Market: 1103 Harriton Road

Harriton Road is one of those streets in Baltimore that's completely hidden away, but once you find it, you will be completely charmed. 
This house has many of the Palmer & Lamdin trademarks: the mixed materials, including stone and cedar shingles, unusual doorways, lattice work, arched entryways and much more. 

The house, which was built in 1930, has five bedrooms and four and a half baths. It is situated in a green valley, surrounded by old growth trees and beautiful gardens.
As I mentioned, it's very private, with only one way in and out, but at the same time, it's very convenient to the local Whole Foods and Starbucks!
To be honest, I'd pull back the bright green to something a little more subtle, and maybe add more of the lattice-work on either side of the door, but that's about it.

You can find more information about this delightful and classic Palmer & Lamdin here

Friday, September 13, 2019

Dr. J.H. Mason Knox and 211 Wendover Road

In looking at old issues of Brickbuilder magazine, and searching for Palmer & Lamdin projects, I discovered the (brick) house of Dr. J.H. Mason Knox, a familiar name to me. 
Dr. Knox devoted himself to improving the milk supply available to Baltimore's poorest families. He was instrumental in setting up milk depots to provide clean milk from healthy cows. In 1910, he became the first president of the American Association for the Study and Prevention of Infant Mortality. He argued that infant mortality was largely preventable. 
In the years following his retirement from the Maryland Bureau of Child Hygiene, Knox continued to consult in the same capacity as he had as an employee. He did, however, wage a long but ultimately successful battle with the state to pay for the gasoline he used on official business!
By 1913, Dr. Knox and his family were living at 211 Wendover Road in this brick house designed by Edward L. Palmer, Jr. It is one of the largest houses on the block.
According to the plans and elevations, it seems that Dr. Knox had an office at this location where he saw patients. On the left side of the house there is a waiting room, office, examining room and dressing room, as well as a separate passage and a cloak room. 
However, he also kept an office at the Severn Building in Mount Vernon where numerous physicians had their offices. 
The house has nearly 8,000 square feet of living space, as well as about 3/4 of an acre of land, which now includes both a pool and a tennis court. Interestingly, what looks like an attached garage is not shown on the original plans. 
Looking at the Redfin listing for the house, it's mentioned that the house was built in 1925, when clearly, given the information in the 1914 issue of Brickbuilder, the house was built by that date. Brickbuilder also has images of the front door, 
and the rear elevation of the house.
I wonder if they were all taken during the summer, since the shutters on the front/north-facing side of the house are tightly closed in two of the images.

There are a number of Edward L. Palmer's houses in this issue of Brickbuilder,
focusing on Roland Park, which was about 20 years old, and the new project of Guilford. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

In The Wild: Sherwood House

During one of my searches, I found a mention of Sherwood House in Cromwell Valley and its design by Palmer & Lamdin (except it was spelled Landen). So, of course, that got me off and running. 
I vaguely knew about Cromwell Valley as a park in Baltimore County, and had some notion that an early boss, Arthur Sherwood had grown up there, but as far as I knew, I'd really never even driven on Cromwell Bridge Road, which winds through the valley. 
Sherwood House was built in 1935 for Mr. & Mrs. Donald Henry Sherwood at a cost of approximately $37,000. The English manor style house was designed by Palmer & Lamdin and has 27 rooms, including five bedroom suites, eight bathrooms, five fireplaces and living quarters for up to four servants. 
The house measures 108x95 feet and has random rubble-stone walls that are 18.5" thick. There are 28 windows on the first floor and 34 on the second!
The house is a little odd, as there is a "front" door, but it opens directly into the dining room.
The "back" door opens into a large central hallway.
The driveway in the front of the house doesn't come close to the house at all, and you circle around the rear,
through a breezeway between the house and the garages/servants' quarters,
to access the main entrance.
You can read a very detailed description of the house and property from Medusa here