Jennifer Goold, Betty Bird and Associates
Patterson Park/Highlandtown Historic District
Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Patterson Park/Highlandtown Historic District is an approximately 120 block area in east Baltimore City. The district is generally bounded on the north by Pulaski Highway (U.S. Route 40), on the east by an industrial corridor, on the south by the Canton Historic District and Patterson Park, and on the west by the Butchers Hill Historic District. Predominantly comprised of unbroken streetscapes of modest rowhouses lining gridded streets, the Patterson Park/Highlandtown Historic District is characteristic of Baltimore's working class neighborhoods. In a manner characteristic of communities knit together by foot and streetcar transportation, churches, schools, corner stores, and scattered small-scale industrial buildings are interspersed among the rowhouses. A neighborhood commercial district is centered along Eastern Avenue, South Highland Avenue, and South Conkling Street, a branch library, a movie theater, and a Jewish cemetery complete the physical fabric of the historic district. While local architects like Wyatt & Nolting, John Zink, and E. Francis Baldwin are represented within the district, for the most part the district is characterized by commonplace buildings. Typically for rowhouse construction, stylistic details serve merely as applied decoration to vernacular rowhouse variations. The district retains elements such as painted screens, window displays, planters, and decorative seating areas characteristic of Baltimore's rowhouse-based residential folkways. While buildings have been altered, these changes have not affected the all-important massing, form, and rhythm of the streetscapes. Changes to commercial buildings are typical of the property type; alterations to dwellings, particularly the application of Formstone, embody the ideals of home ownership so important to Baltimore's rowhouse neighborhoods.
The Patterson Park/Highlandtown Historic District is a remarkably large and cohesive rowhouse neighborhood in east Baltimore. It survives as a material representation of Baltimore's settlement patterns created by waves of European immigration. These newcomers, who established ethnically heterogeneous neighborhoods within this district, provided the labor essential for the growth of the city's industrial base. First settled in 1867, the Patterson Park/Highlandtown Historic District illustrates the role city annexation, industrial development, and home ownership played in shaping land use patterns in the city .Block after block of unbroken rows of modest brick rowhouses stand to represent their association with Baltimore's working class immigrant population. Churches, schools, corner stores, a neighborhood commercial district, movie theater, and library complete the fabric of a community knit together by streetcars and pedestrian traffic. The Patterson Park/Highlandtown Historic District is significant for its association with Baltimore's working class identity and the important role home ownership played in the city's housing patterns. The Patterson Park/Highlandtown Historic District is also significant as a surviving example of the unbroken streetscapes of modest rowhouses that once characterized middle class housing in Baltimore. An exceptionally cohesive district, Patterson Park/Highlandtown has lost less than 1% of its architectural fabric constructed before 1952. While many of the rowhouses have been altered over time, these alterations are inextricably linked to the persistence of home ownership that characterizes this neighborhood and the democratic ideals of urban rowhouse living. Changes such as the application of Formstone and the installation of first-floor picture windows testify to the owners' continuing commitment to their neighborhood.