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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Berea/Biddle Street Historic District
Inventory No.: B-5271
Date Listed: 12/29/2014
Location: N. Rose Street , Federal Street, Edison Highway, and Penn Central Railroad tracks, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1885-c. 1950
Architect/Builder: Builder: Peter Grogan
Boundary Description: Roughly bounded by N. Roste St, Federal St, Edison Hwy and Penn Central Railroad tracks.
Description: The Berea/Biddle Street Historic District comprises 36 blocks in the eastern section of Baltimore City, Maryland. It is a mainly residential two-story rowhouse community with about half of the houses built between c. 1890 and c. 1925 and the other half built both during and immediately after World War II. The neighborhood centers on St. Katherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church and School, first built 1902-6 and later expanded. Along the western edge of the historic district there are several rows of late Italianate-style houses and some distinguished rows of Renaissance Revival-style swell-front and flat-fronted "marble" houses, some with original storefronts intact. Many rows of brown brick porch-front Daylight-style houses built between about 1914 and 1925 fill the center of the historic district. Beginning in the late 1930s and continuing through 1946, rows of Early American, or Colonial Revival-style, red brick rows with suburban-style front lawns were built in the eastern section of the historic district. Significance: The Berea/Biddle Street Historic District derives historic significance for its association with the history of immigrant groups in Baltimore City, and with historical patterns of residential development. Lying on the eastern edge of the city north of the old Northern Central Railroad Tracks and east of the Belair Road corridor, the area represents one of the last land pockets to be developed within the old (1851) city boundaries. Much of the land remained undeveloped until the period after World War I because it was the location of active brickyards. When significant numbers of houses began to be built in the 1920s they were designed in the then-popular "Daylight" style, with front porches and a two-room-wide by two-room-deep floor plan allowing sunlight in every room. These new homes, influenced by the suburban housing trends in the early 20th century, appealed to many of the Bohemian (Czechoslovakian) immigrant families who had first settled along the alley streets of East Baltimore in the area surrounding Johns Hopkins Hospital beginning in the 1870s and 1880s. By the early 1900s and beyond, many of these same families were able to move northeast into more spacious and modern houses, usually with front porches, in a much less congested neighborhood surrounded by parks and expansive stretches of open land, including two major cemeteries. There were also many Irish and Italian newcomers, all of whom attended the Roman Catholic St. Katherine of Sienna Church (1903) and many of whose children went to St. Katharine's School. The citywide trend towards suburbanization continued in the Historic District in the 1940s, as block after block of Colonial Revival-style red brick rowhouses--all with small front lawns--filled the northeastern quadrant of the historic district. The district derives architectural significance for its collection of rowhouses representing the styles and types of domestic, commercial, institutional, and ecclesiastical architecture which characterized Baltimore's neighborhoods from the late 19th century through the Post World War II era. These include houses reflecting Italianate influence; Renaissance Revival swellfront houses; "Marble Houses" with decorative marble lintels, sills, steps, and basements; houses of the Daylight and porch-front types; and postwar rowhouses of Colonial Revival design. The period of significance, c. 1885 to c. 1950, begins with the initial development of housing in the area by Peter Grogan, and ends c. 1950, by which date the district was substantially built out, achieving its historic and present form and appearance. The district retains a high degree of integrity.
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