Tuesday, June 8, 2021

On the Market: 2 Englewood Road

The houses on Englewood and Edgevale Road which surround Edgevale Square, a common green, are some of my favorites. Designed by Edward Palmer when he was the in-house architect at the Roland Park Corporation, these houses take their cues from the English villages which inspired much of Roland Park. 

No. 2 Englewood Road has just gone on the market for the second time in five years. The couple who own it are friends, and I am both happy and sad for their move, but love what they've done with the house. 

From the realtor's listing: 

English Country Palmer and Lambin [sic] home in one of Baltimore’s most sought-after neighborhoods. This architecturally significant, semi-detached Roland Park gem features 5 bedrooms and 3.5 baths and is completely move-in ready having been recently updated by its current owners.

This impeccable home welcomes everyone with its warmth and elegance, and offers beautiful appointments and decorator touches throughout. You’ll appreciate the gracious living areas that include a comfortable, spacious living room with a coffered ceiling, fireplace and exquisite built-ins, the inviting glass family room which opens to the patio, and the formal dining room and kitchen with walk-in pantry.

The home also features custom window treatments and wall coverings, custom light fixtures, fresh neutral paint colors, handmade cabinetry and beautiful hardwood flooring and woodwork throughout.

Travel up the gorgeous staircase to discover 2 bedrooms with a shared renovated bathroom, in addition to a primary bedroom with a new walk-in closet and gorgeous spa-like bathroom.

The spacious third level begins with a cozy sitting area on the landing which leads to the 4th bedroom and oversized versatile 5th bedroom/family room -- perfect for movie night and family get-togethers.

The beautiful newly landscaped yard with mature trees, flat front yard, 1 car garage and easy access to the secluded and hidden 2.5 acre Edgevale Park (with exclusive use by the 12 surrounding homes), complete the fabulous lifestyle you will inevitably create with this exquisite and immaculate home.

You can see why I am completely charmed by this house. The full listing is here

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Dundalk and Palmer on WYPR

In preparation for an upcoming event with the Baltimore Architecture Foundation and Baltimore Heritage, Amy Menzur, head of Dundalk Renaissance, and I had the opportunity to speak to Sheilah Kast at WYPR's "On the Record" radio show. It aired on June 4 at 9:30 a.m. I have written about Dundalk, here.

On July 9, Amy and I will be speaking on "Designs for Victory: Olmsted-inspired Garden City Plans for Historic Dundalk." While Amy will be concentrating on the history of Dundalk and its current renaissance, I will be talking on Edward Palmer's part in designing the housing stock for the "Ship" streets. 

Here's the summary of the event: 

The Bethlehem Steel Mill at Sparrows Point launched an effort to create a Garden City-style town in 1917 just before the US entered WWI. At the same time, the Federal Government began housing production for war workers. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. (FLO Jr.) headed the Town Planning division of the new United States Housing Corporation. Several colleagues in the nascent profession of city planning who had worked with FLO Jr. on Roland Park and Forest Hills Gardens were all directly involved in designing Dundalk, including Baltimore architect Edward Palmer, Roland Park Company leader Edward Bouton, and architects Grosvenor Atterbury and Charles Wellford Leavitt. Their plans were inspired by their designs for more affluent areas, including curvilinear streets, separation of uses, green spaces, and restrictive covenants. We will explore how these plans created a new community for workers and managers, but was segregated by race.

You can sign up for the event here.

Here are my notes for today's interview.

From 1907 to 1917, Edward L. Palmer was the architect for the Roland Park Company, and he designed a number of houses there, including his own, modeled on a Swiss chalet. In addition to Roland Park, he had a small private practice.

In 1917, Palmer opened his own architectural practice, continuing residential work, and securing the commission for the village of Dundalk. He had worked Edward Bouton at the Roland Park Company, who knew he could design a variety of distinct housing types and hone to the company’s mandate of expedience and low cost.  [His partner, William Lamdin, joined the firm in 1920.]

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 purchased by the Bethlehem Steel Company to house their workers who had families.

At their peak, around the time of WWI, there were more than 2,500 company towns, housing 3% of the US population. The companies that ran the towns were primarily labor companies such as coal, steel, lumber and various war industries.

Companies understood that their employees did not want to live in cramped quarters, so in an attempt to keep the workers happy, some forward-thinking companies created villages modeled on the Garden City movement in England. Green space was valued, and attention was given to architectural details, an Edward Palmer specialty. Good housing close to the plant or factory enhanced quality of life for the workers, reduced absenteeism and reduced commuting time.

The two-story houses Palmer designed for Dundalk was limited to three or four basic plans. They all had steeply pitched roofs with a combination of gable, jerkin-head, shed and flared shapes and stucco exteriors. Influences from Palmer's work in Roland Park can be seen in the housing stock in Dundalk. In fact, there are some nearly identical houses in both neighborhoods. However, all of the houses in Dundalk are semi-detached or townhouses.

This “company town” concept was also carried out at Wawaset in Wilmington, Delaware, when the DuPont Company hired Palmer to create a similar village for the company’s executives and scientists. The village stretched two city blocks wide by five blocks long, blending 50 town houses, 56 duplex houses and 101 single-family houses.  

In a departure from Dundalk, but not Roland Park, Guilford and Homeland, houses in Wawaset included land-use restrictions with each property deed. The strict building and maintenance provisions were aimed at preserving for original and future residents the integrity and attractiveness of Wawaset’s architectural concepts.

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Visit to Villa Pace

You might remember that I recently posted about the 1930's Villa Pace, and last week, I had a chance to visit this beautiful house and have a tour, given by the current owner. 

Although I did see much of the main level of the house, I was not comfortable taking pictures of it, but I took plenty of the outside.

The house was built in a cross-shape, and is of Italianate style, similar to others that Palmer & Lamdin built, including the Shrine of St. Anthony

The house had a bit of a checkered past, with it being built in the 1930's by opera diva, Rosa Ponselle. There was a pretty serious fire in the late 1970's and then a battle with the insurance company, which lasted several years. 

Once that was over, Rosa Ponselle died and the house was to be made into a music center. Lots of issues with that, and over the next several years, all of the money disappeared.

The house was sold to a young company who could only do what they could do to maintain the house, and couldn't do anything about the property, other than mow the vast expanse of lawns.

About 25 years ago, another couple purchased the house and brought it back to its former glory. The restored the interiors, planted the gardens,

added trees, a pool and pool-house and cared for it with love.

My visit was on a sparkling late spring afternoon, when the sun was shining,

and the gardens were bright with blooms. 

A very gracious thank you to my delightful hostess!

Monday, May 17, 2021

On the Market: 5202 St. Albans Way

When I was a kid, I had a friend who thought it was pronounced Stalbans. All one word. It took a while to realize she was talking about Saint Alban's Way. One of the prettiest streets in Homeland, with several Palmer & Lamdin houses lining the roadway.

Just on the market last week is 5202 St. Alban's Way. There are at least six other P&L houses that I've catalogued so far on that street. 

Here's what the real estate listing says:

Perfectly situated in the center of the neighborhood on one of Homeland’s few double lots sits this unique stone home built by Palmer Lamdin architects in 1927. Known well for their fine architectural details, mainly in the woodworking, this home seems to be a showcase of sorts displaying their signature work throughout. Wide and thick wood doors with raised paneling, detailed paneling on the walls, wide open entry way and foyer, and mantelpieces that you’ve most likely never seen before lie inside, decorating each spacious room.

The home is light and airy and the amount of living space is abundant inside and out.

The kitchen was fully renovated in 2009 with granite counters and a Wolfe range, and also has the original butlers pantry which has been preserved. The large dining room walls are draped with Zuber wallpaper, also featured in The White House, as well as a gas fireplace for ambiance.

The living room is very spacious and along with its extra reading nook with built-in shelving and gas fireplace, opens with double French doors to the completely reconstructed family room. The large family room is filled with light and windows, a stone exterior wall within, and a built-in system with beverage refrigerator and cabinetry. French doors from the family room open to the elaborate gardens in the rear.

With four sizable bedrooms upstairs, an extra attic/play room, and a lower level with many usable spaces, this house has plenty of space to spread out. The garage is attached and accessible inside of the house through a mud room. Laundry has been moved upstairs for convenience.

The gardens outside are beyond imagination, as meandering paths lead you around the endless plantings and specimen trees. There are also ponds, water features and stone work, along with a beautiful surrounding iron fence.

The property is so truly unique that it has been featured in home and garden tours over the years. An exquisite package worth exploring!

 This is a great house, with a double lot, in a great neighborhood.

Friday, April 9, 2021

On the Market: 3700 Greenway

I have written about the Gateway Houses, the addresses of which are 3701 St. Paul Street and 3700 Greenway before, but now Greenway has gone on the market, so I am writing about it again.

This house was last on the market in 2013, and I wrote about it on my old blog, Pigtown*Design, here.

The same realtor is selling the house, and here's what he has to say about the house:

Situated at the entrance to Guilford, this stunning Palmer-Lamdin designed home makes quite the statement. Surrounded by 4 acres of park, it gives you the sense of being in a private estate, yet you are conveniently close to Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood Campus, the BMA, Union Memorial hospital, the shops and restaurants of Charles Village, the Rotunda and so much more. A walled front garden greets you as you approach this classic Guilford home. Enter into the two-story foyer with curved staircase and then on to the generously proportioned living space with large living room, huge sunporch, elegant dining room and remodeled eat-in kitchen. The second floor offers you a generously sized main bedroom suite with walk-in closet and private full bath, plus there are an additional three bedrooms and another full and remodeled bathroom. The lower level has ample storage and space for a fifth bedroom. Plus a two-car attached garage! A rare gem!

I love this sweeping staircase, and the fanlight over the front door. This house has about a dozen sets of French doors, which are wonderful. (But if you want to be taken seriously as a reader, don't shelve your books by color.)
The two Gateway houses share a center parking area, each house with its own garage. So you better hope that you and your neighbor get along well. 

Do you like the house painted white, or in the original brick color?

The listing is here

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

No. 4 Millbrook Road

No. 4 Millbrook Road is probably one of Palmer & Lamdin's least interesting houses, as far as I can discern. It's basically a four-square Colonial design, with none of P&L's trademark details. It was built in 1926, the same time as they were building some of their spectacular houses including 231 Chancery Road, the Gateway Houses, and 3707 Greenway

I am wondering if the first floor windows were originally casement windows. And do you think that the sunporch on the left side of the house needs more windows?

There's a curious addition on the back of the house that I am still trying to understand. 

This might help a little. 

Anyway... not their best work. Here's the listing for the house from 2018. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Villa Pace

Villa Pace was the home of famed opera singer, Rosa Ponselle, who at one point, was married to the son of the Mayor of Baltimore City. Palmer & Lamdin designed the villa and the grounds to Miss Ponselle's specifications in 1940. 

Villa Pace is located on a 40-acre estate on the north side of the Green Spring Valley Road, just  north of Baltimore City. The house was designed in the style of an Italian villa, not Palmer & Lamdin's only house in this style. 

Miss Ponselle was a larger than life opera singer who traveled around the world singing in grand and great theatres. The HABS report says this: Villa Pace has been carefully constructed in the mold of an Italian Villa. Its cross-shape form and elaborate interior detailing are completely in keeping with the professional occupation of its owner, Rosa Ponselle, a world-renown opera star.

HABS continues: The seventeen-room house was built by Miss Ponselle and her former husband Carle A. Jackson in 1940. Designed by Palmer and Lambden,[sic] Baltimore architects, it carried a post-war price tag of $500,000. Villa Pace was named after an aria Miss Ponselle sang on the night of her debut with the famous Enrico Caruso at the Metropolitan Opera.

Later accounts of the house detail the fittings and furnishings, including centuries old tapestries and brocades; a life-size portrait of Miss Ponselle;

a red velvet couch and a turquoise leather sofa; a circular marble bathroom; all of the colors of the Madonna (blue, gold and white); and much, much more! Miss Ponselle seemed to be a diva in every sense of the word.

On Christmas Eve of 1979, much of the house was destroyed by fire and a long battle with the insurance companies ensued. While it only took eight months to for the original construction of Villa Pace, the renovations and restorations dragged on for several years. The piano alone cost more than $7,000 to restore. An article from 1982 details the restoration as the house was being prepared to be sold.

Miss Ponselle had thought the house would be preserved as a memorial to her musical career, but she didn't endow the project, so after several court battles, it all fell apart. 

The house has passed through several sets of private hands, and still sits high on a hill overlooking the Green Spring Valley. Sadly, the yew hedges along the road in front of the house have grown so high that you can no longer see Villa Pace from the road. You can find more information herehere and here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Fayetteville Stable

Last month, I wrote about a house in Fayetteville, NC. The new owners had kindly sent me pictures and blueprints of the house, which had been owned by his great-grandparents. 

A few days ago, he sent me a picture his aunt had found of the stables at the house, which has now been converted into a guest house. 

The guest house is absolutely charming, with the dovecote tower on the roof and the wonderful metal casement windows, both signatures of Palmer & Lamdin.

It's such fun to see original pictures of P&L's work! Thanks for sharing, DB!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

2211 South Road, Baltimore

Occasionally, I just enter Palmer & Lamdin into the Google, just to see if anything new pops up. And lo and behold, today I found something new: 2211 South Road, in the Mt. Washington section of Baltimore. 

This house is a little later than most of theirs, having been built in 1938. It's three bedrooms and one full bath, plus a two car garage. Apparently, it listed and sold almost simultaneously in 2013. 

Friday, January 8, 2021

The Late, Lamented Homewood Garage

Those of use who have lived in Baltimore for ages, might remember the beautiful (!) Homewood Garage, which was located on St. Paul Street, just above 33rd Street. It was originally built for the residents of the nearby Cambridge Apartments. Because of where it was located, it needed to be somewhat elegant, and P&L were just the firm to accomplish that. 

In 1926, plans were submitted to the city for a garage to serve the Cambridge Apartments which were on 34th Street between St. Paul and Charles Streets. 

Construction started a few months later, which was mentioned in the Baltimore Sun. (If you look at the article above, you'll notice that Lamdin's name is mis-spelled as Lambdin.)

In September of 1930, the garage was featured in the Architectural Forum as part of an article about garages. 
The Homewood Garage also featured in a specialist publication called "The Modern Garage" which looks like it was published to promote the D'Humy Motoramp Garage system. The first image is from that publication.

Sadly, the handsome Homewood Garage was torn down in 2003 to build the bland and boring "Charles Village Project." The garage and another building were torn down, and then the lot sat empty for a number of years. Hopkins has a history of tearing down buildings and then leaving the property as a vacant lot for ages (see: seven houses at the Wyman Park Dell to be demolished).

If anyone has images of the late Homewood Garage, please send them to me at pigtowndesign at juno dot com.

Monday, January 4, 2021

In the Wild: Fayetteville, NC

I was completely surprised to get an email from someone telling me that they'd just purchased a Palmer & Lamdin house in Fayetteville, NC! When I went back and looked at the project list from P&L and the successor firms, this house was not listed. But once I saw it, and the owner (DB) shared the blueprints, I knew it was authentic.

(Please excuse the hideously over HDR'd photos from the real estate listing)

Interestingly, the house had originally been built for DB's maternal great-grandfather. He had heard that there was some connection between this house and Biltmore, but it wasn't until his brother found the original blueprints, and DB did a little research, that he understood the connection. 

The house was designed in the few years when the firm was Palmer, Willis & Lamdin were working together. The partnership did not last long, and there is scant information about J. Swing Willis. 

There are many of PW&L's trademark features in this house, including a turret, casement windows, a façade that both advances and recedes, a loggia with a peaked wooden ceiling and much more. 

DB told me that he's going to be painting and updating the house to make it more comfortable with the original style. Additionally, he's going to be returning some of the home's original furnishings to where they belong. 

DB also thinks that there might be more information about the house in some family files. I will look forward to seeing them, and sharing them with you.

Here are some additional photographs of the house. 

Thanks so much to DB for his generosity in sharing his house and adding to the Palmer & Lamdin catalogue raissonné.