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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Maureen Kavanagh, 04/21/2004
Old Catonsville Historic District
Inventory No.: BA-2975
Date Listed: 12/27/2002
Location: Catonsville, Baltimore County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1866-1950
Architect/Builder: Architects: Thomas C. Kennedy, Wyatt & Nolting, Walter Gieske, William Ehlers, William G. Beecher, & George Callis, Jr.
Description: The Old Catonsville Historic District is bounded on the south by Frederick Road, an east-west thoroughfare that was originally a turnpike from Baltimore to Frederick, and on which the village of Catonsville grew up to the east. The northern boundary of Edmonson Avenue also runs east-west, paralleling Frederick Road, and was laid out with the construction of the electric railway along it. Between these two roads are a series of parallel roads that run south-southeast to north-northwest, including Melvin Avenue, N. Beaumont Avenue, Osborne Avenue, Wyndcrest Avenue, North Beechwood Avenue, Rosewood Avenue, and Smithwood Avenue. These roads are set slightly off the north-south axis because they parallel the original boundaries of the Caton land tract that became Old Catonsville. Most of these roads are bisected near the center by Summit Avenue, an east-west road that is perpendicular to them, rather than parallel with Edmonson Avenue and Frederick Road. The neighborhood consists generally of rectangular lots, the largest lots being found on Melvin Avenue, N. Beaumont Avenue, N. Beechwood Avenue, and the southern half of Osborne Avenue. Not coincidentally, these were the earliest lots laid out, and contained the earliest dwellings. The district is overwhelmingly residential, with three churches (one with a school), a modern public library, and an Art Deco water tower about the only structures in the district that are not dwellings. Of the three churches, the oldest is St. Mark's Catholic Church, an 1888 Gothic Revival style structure of random granite ashlar with limestone trim. Near the church stands the Colonial Revival style 1950 church building of Flemish bond brick. To the south is Catonsville Methodist Church, also Gothic Revival of random granite ashlar with limestone trim. The building, built in 1924, has a slate roof with end parapets. The Catonsville Presbyterian Church is a Flemish bond brick Colonial Revival building with a large portico and compass-headed windows. There is a brick bell tower with a wooden spire at the southwest corner of the church, and a 1 1/2 story brick wing with a gambrel roof. The vast majority of the houses in Old Catonsville are freestanding, single-family dwellings, with several duplexes that are similar in size, scale, and materials. Several dwellings have been converted to apartments and one to an assisted living facility, but the physical changes to the fabric in these instances are few. Architectural styles in the district range from mid- to late-19th century vernacular "I-houses" to late-19th and early-20th century styles such as Queen Anne, Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial, Tudor Revival, and Craftsman. A large number of these dwelling shave freestanding garages, typically finished in a like manner to their houses. Original garage doors exist in many instances, but are the one feature most likely to have been changed. Significance: The Old Catonsville Historic District is architecturally significant, as it embodies the distinctive characteristics of its type and period, illustrating the evolution and development of a community from summer homes to year-round suburban living in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is significant both for its community planning, which did not follow the more traditional and better studied models, and for its architecture, which represents with good integrity the period of its development.
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