Photo credit: Julie Darsie , 03/2003

Property Name: Federal Hill South Historic District
Date Listed: 12/22/2003
Inventory No.: B-5092
Location: Baltimore, Baltimore City

Description: The Federal Hill South Historic District is generally bounded on the north by the Federal Hill Historic District, on the east by a waterfront redevelopment corridor, on the south by Fort Avenue and Ostend Street, and on the west by Marshall Street and Olive Street. Largely laid out before the 1823 Poppleton Plan, the district has an irregular street grid. Brick rowhouses are the most common building type in this dense neighborhood. Rowhouses are concentrated in the eastern part of the district, where modest two- and three-story houses line the blocks that cap a waterfront ridge. Rowhouses represent a continuum of development from c. 1830 through the early 20th century, and most blocks include a robust mixture of types. Small groups of identical houses and dramatic topographical changes create undulating cornice lines, emphasizing the vertical arrangement of individual houses over the horizontal arrangement of the unified blockfront. The steeples of two substantial c. 1860s Gothic Revival Roman Catholic churches soar above the residential skyline. Commercial buildings, the second most common type, are concentrated in the western part of the district. The linear spine of the neighborhood commercial district runs south from Cross Street Market along primary thoroughfares; Light Street, Charles Street, and Fort Avenue. Small brick commercial buildings that mirror residential types are the most common commercial buildings in the district. Larger commercial buildings dating from the 20th century are also seen on Light and South Charles Streets. A branch library building, a local hospital building, two school buildings, and a police station (constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century) complete the built environment of the commercial section. The Federal Hill South Historic District, largely intact, represents an urban industrial neighborhood. A specifically Baltimorean assortment of features characterize alterations in the district. Formstone-fronted rowhouses with window displays of religious and sporting iconography also sit cheek-by-jowl with rowhouses with restored facades and roof decks. Changes to commercial buildings, such as updated storefronts, are typical of the property type. Alterations in the district indicate continuous building use and neighborhood vitality. While individual buildings have been altered, these changes have not affected the integrity of the district as a whole. All-important building massing, form, and rhythm of the streetscapes remain legible to represent the historic district's identity as an urban industrial neighborhood.

Significance: The Federal Hill South Historic District is significant on a local level for its association with Baltimore's immigrant settlement patterns. Located at the heart of Baltimore's industrial waterfront, Federal Hill South stands to represent its working class, immigrant population and their successful economic and social strategies. Characterized by dense streetscapes lined with modest rowhouses and commercial structures, the Federal Hill South Historic District mirrors the robust diversity of Baltimore's working class during the period of neighborhood development, c. 1830-1945. The district derives additional significance for its cohesive collection of residential, commercial, and ecclesiastical buildings representing the broad range of architectural forms and expressions typical of the city's urban industrial neighborhoods. First settled by a largely German immigrant population in the 1830s, Federal Hill South continued to support an increasingly heterogeneous population through the end of World War II, when the aftermath of wartime booms and postwar out-migration changed the social and cultural character of the district.


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