Only 1.5 miles from the Baltimore waterfront, this area was originally open farmland until northward development followed the construction of a streetcar line and created a building boom in the late 19th century. To the west Bolton Hill became a middle- and upper-middle-class enclave of about nine blocks by five blocks. These development trends brought notable figures to the neighborhood including F. Scott Fitzgerald who entertained, among others, Gertrude Stein and Juan Dos Passos at his 1307 Park Avenue rowhouse.
Predominately residential, the district contains the groupings of two- and three-story brick town houses and free standing homes. These residences are some of Baltimore’s finest rowhouses and largest mansions, including many fine examples of designs from local and nationally known architects. As a whole, the architecture of the district is characterized by simplicity of treatment, uniformity of scale, design and fabric, and high standards of design, materials and workmanship. Red brick, white marble steps, and high ceilings are found throughout Bolton Hill residences. From the 1950s through the 1960s Bolton Hill experienced an architectural revival with the revitalization of the parks surrounding the Francis Scott Key Monument and the green boulevards and fountains at Park Place.
Bolton Hill’s elegant 19th century row houses set among tree-lined streets and deep, leafy gardens qualified the neighborhood for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. Several groups of award-winning contemporary town homes and parks blend with the classic architecture of the relatively unaltered 19th century community. New Orleans-style balconies are fragrant with flowers and parks with fountains and sculptures are alive with neighbors, art students, dog walkers, and joggers.
To the east the city center expanded northward to the passenger rail lines provided by the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the cultural advantages provided by the establishment of the University of Baltimore. Our walking tour will start at the picturesque Mount Royal Station...
Mount Royal Station
Cathedral Street and Mount Royal Avenue
This was the largest passenger station ever built to accommodate just one railroad line when it was constructed in 1896, that being the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad’s celebrated Royal Blue line. Ephraim Francis Baldwin, the head architect for the B & O since 1872, tucked his Romanesque creation into a hollow, lessening its impact on the neighborhood. The station is crafted of native Maryland granite and trimmed in Indiana limestone and all but the landmark 150-foot clock tower is covered in a red tile roof. In 1964, its days as a passenger station over, the building and train sheds were sold to the Maryland Institute, College of Art.
EXIT THE STATION ONTO MOUNT ROYAL AVENUE.
Lyric Opera House
140 Mount Royal Avenue
This 2,564-seat theater began life in 1894 as the Music Hall, modeled on the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In 1909 German-born Otto Kahn, who aspired to be a musician and wound up an influential investment banker, purchased the stage on behalf of the Metropolitan Opera and re-christened it the Lyric Opera House. The theater, known for its acoustics, has hosted such names as Charles Lindberg, Amelia Earhart, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Will Rogers.
WALK EAST ON MOUNT ROYAL AVENUE, THE OPERA HOUSE WILL BE ON YOUR LEFT.
University of Baltimore Academic Center (The Garage)
Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue
The automobile culture in the early 1900s grew up around Mount Royal Avenue and this low-slung brick building was constructed in 1906 to house the Automobile Club of Maryland.
TURN LEFT ON NORTH CHARLES STREET.
1525 North Charles Street
Pennsylvania Station is the main train station in Baltimore, the third to handle passengers on this site. Kenneth MacKenzie Murchison, a New York architect who designed a string of depots for the Pennsylvania Railroad, drew up the plans for this classically inspired Beaux Arts style station in 1911. The station originally served both the Pennsylvania Railroad and Western Maryland Railwaybut was renamed to match other Pennsylvania Stations in 1928.
1711 North Charles Street
The oldest movie house in Baltimore was built in 1892 to house streetcars for the Baltimore Traction Company. In 1939 the buildings, designed by architect Jackson C. Gott, became the Times Theatre, Baltimore’s first all-newsreel movie house. It picked up the name Charles in the late 1970s as it morphed into a five-screen house.
RETURN TO LANVALE STREET AND TURN LEFT. TURN RIGHT ON GREENMOUNT AVENUE.
Green Mount Cemetery Gatehouse
Greenmount Avenue and Oliver Street
In the early 19th century Americans found their first parks in graveyards and Green Mount Cemetery, dedicated in 1839 on the site of the former country estate of merchant Robert Oliver, was a pioneer in the “rural cemetery movement.” The gateway was designed by leading Baltimore architect Robert Cary Long, Jr., one of America’s leading cheerleaders for the Gothic Revival style. Some 65,000 people are buried here, including the poet Sydney Lanier, philanthropists Johns Hopkins and Enoch Pratt, Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister-in-law Betsy Patterson, John Wilkes Booth, and numerous military, political and business leaders.
Green Mount Cemetery Chapel
Greenmount Avenue and Oliver Street
Designed by J. Rudolph Niernsee and J. Crawford Neilson, this hilltop chapel is a study in Gothic Revival architecture with such hallmarks of the style as flying buttresses and pinnacles, executed in brownstone. The octagonal structure was completed in 1856.
TURN RIGHT ON EAST PRESTON STREET ACROSS I-83. TURN LEFT ON ST. PAUL STREET.
Ross Winans House
1217 St. Paul Street
Ross Winans was born into an 18th century New Jersey family of horse breeders who became one of America’s first multi-millionaires as an inventor and builder of the world’s first iron horses for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. This mansion, with 46 rooms and over 18,600 square feet, was constructed for his son in 1882. It was an early commission of New York architect Stanford White, who would become the Gilded Age’s most elegant designer. Here White tapped the French Renaissance style, executed in brick and brownstone. One of the town’s grandest homes did duty through the 20th century as a school, funeral home and offices.
Christ Episcopal Church
northwest corner of St. Paul and Chase streets
Here is another early work from a soon-to-be-admired architect, Bruce Price. Price hailed from Cumberland, Maryland and spent four years interning in the influential Baltimore shop of John Rudolph Niernsee and James Crawford Neilson, who were the chief early designers for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. With this church in 1872 Price introduced the picturesque French Gothic-style to Baltimore, rendered in rough-faced white marble. price left for Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania the following year and was in New York City by 1877, where he carved out a career as one of the country’s best Victorian architects.
1020 St. Paul Street
This deceptively simple building is one of the earliest International Style structures that appeared in Baltimore and dates to 1938. The clean lines and modern feeling come from the pen of Charles Nes, an architect just starting out at the time.
TURN LEFT ON EAST EAGER STREET AND LEFT ON NORTH CALVERT STREET.
1000 block of North Calvert Street
The northward expansion of the city reached here around the 1880s when the eclectic Queen Anne style with its showy ornamentation was all the rage. This block of rowhouses is a riot of gables and protruberances and textures. The east side was designed by J. Appleton Wilson and William T. Wilson. The west side is by Baltimore architects James Bosley Noel Wyatt and Joseph Evans Sperry.
RETURN TO EAST EAGER STREET AND TURN RIGHT
Charles and Eager streets
The private Maryland Club organized in 1857 as the second social club in the United States, only the Union Club in New York City is older. A few strokes after ringing in the New Year in 1892 the club members, including five original Maryland Clubbers, began to assemble for breakfast in their new clubhouse here. Architect Josias Pennington borrowed elements from brawny Richardsonian Romanesque style - powerful entry arches and corner turret among them, for the imposing building crafted of rock-faced Baltimore County white marble. Henry Hobson Richardson, America’s most influential post-Civil War architect, pioneered the style favored by organizations and governments looking to make a statement with their buildings in the early 1890s.
TURN RIGHT ON NORTH CHARLES STREET.
One East Chase Street
The Belvedere, which takes its name from the grounds of American Revolution soldier and politician John Eager Howard upon which it rests, was the type of hotel where U.S. Presidents and celebrities would check in while in Baltimore. Boston architects J. Harleston Parker and Douglas H. Thomas, Jr. designed their eleven-story confection in the classical Beaux Arts style rising from a hefty rusticated base to the ornate French Second Empire mansard roof. The grand hotel opened in 1903; it was converted to condominiums in 1991.
Monumental Life Building
North Charles Street and Biddle Street
Founded in 1858 as Maryland’s first insurance company, the Monumental Life Company moved into this Neoclassical headquarters in 1926. Over the years the company expanded into four connected buildings that swallowed the entire block.
TURN LEFT ON WEST PRESTON STREET.
Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation (Associate Reformed Church)
Maryland Avenue and Preston Street
The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation is the oldest of Maryland’s 18 Greek Orthodox parishes, established in 1906. The congregation moved into this house of worship, constructed in 1888 as a Protestant church, in 1937. Baltimore architect Charles E. Cassell provided a Byzantine-flavored design with circular forms under a conical red-tiled roof. The price tag was $137,000.
Fifth Regiment Armory
Hoffman Street at Bolton Street and Preston/Dolphin Street
The National Guard had never embarked on so large a construction project as this one for the Fifth Regiment Armory when a polished granite cornerstone was laidon May 11, 1901. The Fifth Regiment was the 1867 successor to the Old Maryland Guard, a Baltimore military unit organized in 1859. The Armory hosted the 1912 Democratic National Convention, which required 46 ballots to nominate Woodrow Wilson, a one-time Johns Hopkins graduate student and then governor of New Jersey. The building sustained fire damage in 1927, 1932 and an 11-alarm conflagration that consumed the entire interior and caused a million dollars of damage in 1933. Depression-era stimulus funds were used to rebuild.
City Temple of Baltimore Baptist
Eutaw Place and Dolphin Street
Thomas Ustick Walter, the architect responsible for the majestic United States Capitol dome, drew up the plans for Eutaw Place Baptist, for which ground was broken in 1868.The soaring Gothic Revival meetinghouse is composed of white marble blocks. The City Temple of Baltimore moved here in 1969.
TURN RIGHT ON EUTAW PLACE.
Oheb Shalom Synagogue /Prince Hall Masons Temple
Eutaw Place and Lanvale Street
Temple Oheb Shalom held its first services on November 25, 1853 in Osceola Hall at the northeast corner of Gay and Lexington Streets. The congregation moved into this fortress-like church under a triangle of domes in 1893, infused with Byzantine-style elements by architect Joseph Sperry. Oheb Shalom moved on in 1960 and the landmark building was acquired by the Masons.
TURN LEFT ON LANVALE STREET AND RIGHT ON MCCULLOCH STREET.
Western High School /Booker T. Washington Middle School
Lafayette Avenue and McCulloch Street
Western High School, founded in 1844, is the oldest public all-girls high school in the United States. This red brick Romanesque Revival structure trimmed in carved Seneca stone was designed by architect Alfred Mason and began holding classes in 1896. After many years of recess the building once again is doing duty as a school.
TURN RIGHT ON LAFAYETTE AVENUE AND LEFT ON EUTAW PLACE.
1701 block of Eutaw Place
With its roomy, leafy boulevards Eutaw Place lured deep-pocketed city dwellers out to some of the finest apartment houses the city had yet experienced at the turn of the 20th century. Most fell to wrecking ball by the end of the century but the eleven-story Marlborough, erected in 1906, stands as a souvenir of that time. Thomas Shearer, a homeopathic doctor, and William Cochran put up the money and architect Edward Glidden provided a lively Beaux Arts design for the town’s largest apartment house; it was also one of the first to be fully electrified.
northeast corner of Eutaw Place and Laurens Street
When he was 23 years old Abram G. Hutzler opened a small dry goods store in 1858 that grew into Baltimore’s premier family-owned department store with ten chains. Brother David Hutzler moved onto one of the town’s most picturesque blocks when he purchased one of the town’s biggest homes in the 1890s. Martin Hawley spent $70,000 in 1887 to build the eclectic Victorian mansion with its gables and turreted corner and eye-catching roofline.
TURN RIGHT (EAST) ON LAURENS STREET AND RIGHT ON MASON STREET.
200 block of West Lafayette Avenue, Jordan and Mason streets
This complex of 35 townhouses won a national American Institute of Architects award in 1969, the year after it opened. The houses look similar from the street but the common visage belies a rich diversity of sizes. Among the aesthetic innovations seen - or not seen - here are house gutters that are completely hidden and utility lines that have been buried.
CONTINUE ON MASON STREET AND TURN LEFT ON WEST LANVALE STREET.
Family and Children’s Services
Park Avenue and Lanvale Street
The guts of this building were a Gothic Revival house designed in 1848 by Robert Cary Long. Jr. Since 1937, the house has been used by the Family and Children’s Society, a private organization started in 1849.
southeast corner of West Lanvale Street and Park Avenue
Otto Mergenthaler’s invention of the Linotype machine was hailed by Thomas Edison as the “eighth wonder of the world.” Before Mergenthaler’s invention in 1884, no newspaper in the world had more than eight pages. With Linotype printers could set type much faster with far fewer operators. Within twenty years there were 10,000 Linotypes in use and by the time phototypesetting began replacing movable type in the 1960s there were upwards of 100,000. Mergenthaler, a German immigrant, spent the last five years before he died in 1899 in this house; it was built in 1875 by Joseph S. Hopkins, nephew of the noted philanthropist, Johns Hopkins.
TURN LEFT ON MOUNT ROYAL AVENUE.
Maryland Institute, College of Art
1300 West Mount Royal Avenue
The Maryland Institute for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts was established in 1826 and spent its first 79 years in the upstairs rooms of the Center Market on Baltimore Street. Its Great Hall could fit 6,000 guests for lectures (the leading entertainment of the 19th century) by the country’s foremost speakers. The Market was scorched, along with 1,500 other downtown buildings, in the Great Fire of 1904. A $500 design contest for a new school campus yielded F. Livingston Pell and Harvey Corbett of New York City who delivered a Venetian palazzo executed in gleaming white Beaver Dam marble from Baltimore County. The funds for the main building, dedicated on November 23, 1908, were provided by the State of Maryland and steel baron Andrew Carnegie who had recently sold his U.S. Steel Corporation for $400 million and was busy funding 2,700 libraries and educational facilities around the world. The Maryland Institute’s downtown branch closed in the early 1960s and took on its current name, Maryland Institute, College of Art.
Corpus Christi Church
Mount Royal Avenue and West Lafayette Street
From his Brooklyn office Irish-born architect Patrick Charles Keely designed over 600 buildings for the Catholic church in the 19th century, including every cathedral in New England for decades. This was one of his last churches, designed in his favored Gothic Revival style in 1885. The wealthy parishioners of Bolton Hill provided a $200,000 construction budget which gave the church walls of Woodstock granite two feet thick; it was the first church in Baltimore formed completely of granite. Consecration took place on New Year’s Day 1891. The soaring octagonal came along in 1912 to take the the place of the truncated original.
TURN AROUND AND RETRACE YOUR STEPS DOWN MOUNT ROYAL AVENUE TO THE TOUR START AT MOUNT ROYAL STATION.