Fred B. Shoken
Mayfield Historic District
Baltimore, Baltimore City
Mayfield is a residential community of approximately 16 city blocks in northeast Baltimore, four miles from downtown, roughly bounded by two city parks and a reservoir--Clifton Park, Herring Run Park, and Lake Montebello. The district is comprised of a variety of residential building types, including free-standing Victorian frame houses, small brick rows, large early-20th century suburban villas, and early to mid-20th century frame tract houses and masonry duplexes. Many of the houses have associated garages. Five churches and a small commercial grouping complete the 408 properties in the built environment of the district. The western portion of the district, between Lake Montebello and Harford Road (including the east side of Harford Road), is the oldest and most diverse. Lots are generally smaller, with brick rows and duplexes filling gaps between Victorian era houses on larger lots. The southeastern edge of the district features notable, large single-family suburban villas on quarter-acre or larger lots built in a variety of styles popular in the early 20th century. The remainder of the district is made up of later tract houses and masonry duplexes dating from c. 1920-1945. Harford Road, a major traffic artery, gives way to quite tree-lined streets in the interior of the community, including two streets with landscaped medians on the eastern half of the district. A variety of stone walls, fences, terraced lawns, and private gardens are the chief landscape features within the district. Straddling Harford Road, a major traffic artery running northeasterly from downtown towards Harford County, the community is laid out in a fairly regular street grid, bisecting Harford Road at right angles. The oldest house in the district is a five-bay brick house at 3210 Harford Road, featuring two corbeled chimneys, projecting bracketed eaves, and a later portico entrance. In the late 19th century, other freestanding houses were constructed along Harford Road. To the west, the residential community of freestanding frame houses defined by expansive front porches was established from 1890 to 1910. Brick and frame duplexes of the same period, and later bowed-front tan brick duplexes with galvanized metal cornices and front porches filled in the gaps between earlier houses. As Baltimore's urban environment continued to spread to this area, larger groupings of brick duplexes and rowhouses were built within Mayfield, filling vacant lots. The few remaining undeveloped lots in the northwestern portion of the district were developed with later suburban style houses. These c. 1930 stucco cottages with pronounced stone chimneys and steeply sloped slate roofs are more typical of suburban style development that took place east of Harford Road. Suburban villas, tract houses, and duplexes later filled in any empty lots. The conditions of the properties are generally very good to excellent, and the neighborhood overall retains a high degree of integrity.
Mayfield is significant for its association with the suburbanization of Baltimore and as an example of a type of residential neighborhood which characterized the area in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The neighborhood embodies the distinctive characteristics of a community that evolved from a mid to late-19th century rural settlement along an early turnpike route into an early-20th century residential neighborhood on the cusp of urban/suburban development. Beginning in about 1860, Mayfield developed as a community, and was substantially complete by 1955. The district retains housing types encompassing all stages of its evolution: early rural freestanding buildings, turn-of-the-20th-century frame houses in a village setting, early-20th century brick duplexes and rowhouses filling gaps between earlier frame houses, early-20th century suburban villas on large lots, and later suburban style frame tract houses and brick duplexes. Mayfield combines characteristics of both the severe rowhouse grid of urban neighborhoods south of Clifton Park and the contoured roads and freestanding houses of inner ring suburban neighborhoods north of Herring Run Park. The historic district is notable for its park-like surroundings, which act as a buffer between this heterogeneous mix of urban and suburban building types and contrast with the more homogenous urban and suburban neighborhoods in its immediate vicinity. While there are few individually distinctive buildings within the district, the built environment as a whole is significant, representing the evolving character of Baltimore from rural to urban to suburban. As a neighborhood built up primarily in the early automobile era, another distinctive feature of Mayfield is the variety of garages often designed to be compatible with large individually designed houses. Mayfield housed noteworthy Baltimore residents, as well as other middle-class citizens, mostly of Germanic heritage. The historic district designation of Mayfield fills a gap, both chronologically and geographically, between the older, urbanized Baltimore East/South Clifton Park Historic District and the suburban Lauraville Historic District to the north.