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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Fred B. Shoken, 1983
Charles Village/Abell Historic District
Inventory No.: B-3736
Date Listed: 12/15/1983
Location: Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: c. 1868-c.1930
Boundary Description: Bounded by 25th Street, Mace Street, Charles Street, University Parkway, Barclay Street and Guilford Avenue
Description: Charles Village/Abell is a distinctive, well-defined area in north central Baltimore City, generally bounded by 25th street on the south, Mace Street and Charles Street on the west, University Parkway on the north, and Barclay Street and Guilford Avenue on the east. The district takes in some 45 city blocks and consists of approximately 1500 structures. This overwhelmingly residential district is primarily made up of circa 1895-1915 rowhouses built along a grid pattern. The houses were built primarily in large groups often taking up entire city blocks. There is a variety of housing types featuring eclectic architectural elements such as pedimented front porches, bowed fronts, projecting bays, dutch gables, pyramidal and conical roofs, small balconies, and stained glass windows and transoms. Most of the housing is set back from the street providing well-landscaped front lawns that are compatible to the park-like boulevards of North Charles Street and 33rd Street. In addition to the rowhousing, many early 20th century apartment buildings are located within the district. Other building types in the area include churches, individual houses, institutional structures, and a few compatible commercial buildings. The district is characterized by its strong north-south emphasis, largely residential character, distinctive housing set back from the street, and a high degree of integrity that distinguishes Charles Village/Abell from surrounding neighborhoods located along diverging street patterns. Approximately 99% of the buildings in the district contribute to the area’s historic character. Significance: The Charles Village/Abell area has played an important role in the development of North Central Baltimore. It can be considered the northernmost extension of Baltimore’s finest rowhouse neighborhoods which first developed at Mount Vernon Place and expanded northward along the Charles Street corridor. The architecture of Charles Village/Abell represents a cross section of late 19th to early 20th century rowhousing, individual homes, apartments, institutional structures, and compatible commercial buildings that provide the pivotal transition between the heavily urbanized neighborhoods to the south and the garden suburbs of Guilford, Homeland, and Roland Park to the north. This area is unique since it combines an urban grid street pattern and rowhouse character with suburban-like landscaped front yards and park-like boulevards---the result of early community planning efforts. Both the predominance of eclectic rowhouse detailing which represents a complete break from the traditional Baltimore rowhouse and the area’s high degree of integrity with few intrusions and alterations distinguishes Charles Village/Abell from other Baltimore neighborhoods. The development of this area is associated with important developer/builders, such as Francis E. Yewell, who shaped the growth of many Baltimore City neighborhoods around the turn of the 20th century, and with many local and national architects/planners responsible for the area’s design excellence, including: Charles R. Carson; Parker, Thomas and Rice; Theodore W. Pietsch; Otto Simonson; the Olmsted Brothers; Joseph E. Sperry; McKenzie, Forhees and Gmelin; Lawrence Hall Fowler; J. Appleton Wilson; Edward H. Glidden; and John Russell Pope. The early residents of the neighborhood included many important Baltimore civic and business leaders, such as Mayor Thomas Hayes, Edwin C. Bennett, Dr. Merville H. Carter, William Boucher, Abel Woman, and A.H. Fetting. Two other distinguished citizens of the neighborhood were members of the Old National League Baltimore Orioles who so influenced the game of baseball that they were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame---Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw.
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