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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Park Circle Historic District
Inventory No.: B-5132
Date Listed: 12/4/2008
Location: Roughly bounded by Overview, Shirley and Cottage Avenues and Henry G. Parks, Jr. Circle, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1900-1945
Description: Park Circle is a neighborhood primarily made up of early-20th century brick porch-front duplexes and rowhouses directly northwest of Druid Hill Park. The neighborhood is located at the convergence of two major arteries, Reisterstown Road and Park Heights Avenue. The district is hemmed in by railroad tracks and light industry on the west and the land slopes steeply to the east. Predominantly residential in character, the district includes a few historic religious and institutional buildings, as well as a few storefronts. Most of the houses front on small garden plots or terraced walkways, but a few are built directly on the sidewalk. The residential buildings are often characterized by front porches, projecting bays at the second level, and distinctive roof lines featuring cornices, mansard roofs, or gables. There is an unusual grouping of Pueblo Revival duplexes within the district and a single extant American Foursquare type individual frame house. Most of the houses are two stories in height. Although some sections of the neighborhood are in good condition, there are many vacant, dilapidated buildings and scattered vacant lots where buildings have been razed. Despite the condition of many buildings and intrusive vacant lots, the historic character of the area has been maintained due to the retention of significant streetscapes and the preponderance of surviving religious and institutional buildings, including the 1910 Louis May Alcott School #54, Enoch Pratt Branch Library #16, the Sharrei Zion Synagogue, and the Talmudical Academy School. Significance: The Park Circle Historic District is architecturally significant as a representative example of an early-20th century Baltimore neighborhood located just outside the densely built-up urban core. Primarily composed of brick porch-front duplexes and row housing, the district maintains a homogenous residential character with nearly all the houses built within a 30-year time period. The district is also historically significant as an early suburban Jewish neighborhood developed when the sons and daughters of Eastern European immigrants moved from East Baltimore to the city’s northwest outskirts, setting the pattern for further expansion of Baltimore’s Jewish community to the northwest. Although many blocks in the neighborhood are severely deteriorated and demolition has resulted in many vacant lots and newer parks, the historic integrity of the district has been maintained due to the survival of a majority of streetscapes and significant buildings. The preservation and adaptive reuse of the Louisa May Alcott School #59 for senior apartments has set the standard for quality preservation in this community. A recently completed master plan for the Park Heights area calls for the rehabilitation of housing in the Park Circle neighborhood.
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