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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Charity V. Davidson, 06/1997
1601-1830 St. Paul Street and 12-20 East Lafayette Street
Inventory No.: B-4096
Date Listed: 12/27/1984
Location: 1601-1830 Saint Paul Street and 12-20 E. Lafayette Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1876-1906
Description: The buildings at 1601-1830 St. Paul Street and 12-20 East Lafayette Street are a distinctive collection of residential buildings in north central Baltimore. It includes houses on St. Paul and East Lafayette Streets, most of which were constructed between 1876 and 1896 as the City expanded north from the Mount Vernon area. The district includes ten distinctive architectural groups of buildings constructed by different builders. Four separate buildings in the 1700 block of St. Paul were individually constructed and possess distinctive styles apart from that of the ten groupings. These rowhouses offer many features that contribute to a rich architectural fabric. Façade materials include Roman, common red, and molded brick; limestone; and sandstone. Fronts are swelled and straight, often punctuated with bays of various forms and heights. Some are further ornamented with terra cotta and articulated brickwork that forms pilasters, pediments, entablatures, and various arch conditions. Finally, these houses are graced with a mix of cornices, parapets, and dormer pierced mansard roofs. Notwithstanding the variety of architectural groupings of the properties, there is a common, albeit mixed, architectural bond in the proposed district, which creates a high degree of integrity separating the 1601-1830 St. Paul and 12-20 Lafayette Street District from the otherwise flat and unadorned rowhouses to the east and west. Fully 100% of the buildings in the district contribute to the area’s historic character. Significance: Development of this district is a telling reflection of the change and growth that Baltimore underwent in the last 30 years of the 19th century. Recovering from the commercial devastation of the Civil War and the depression of 1873, Baltimore expanded and grew rapidly. Most of the 76 houses in the district were developed and constructed between 1876 and 1906 by some of the more prominent realtors and contractors in the city, specifically, Hiram Woods, Benjamin Bennet, and Oscar F. Bresee. During this period, new larger bridges were constructed over the Jones Falls, opening up development of the land to the north. Public transportation kept rapid pace with this growth changing from horse-drawn rail cars to cable, and then electric, so improving the speed of passenger travel to and from the center of the city that this area became one of the early commuter neighborhoods. The ornate houses that were constructed in the district attracted Baltimore’s more prominent and wealthier citizens. Most of the residents were professional business and civic leaders of the day. These persons included Hammond J. Dugan, George W. Rife, Edmund Sattler, J. A. Durham, C. D. McFarland, Cecil C. Buckham, and Dr. Henry B. Thomas. These residences collectively represent a unique mixture of eclectic and traditional articulated masonry and archtiectural ornamentation. This mixture represented a clear departure from the traditional Baltimore rowhouse that was flat, unadorned, and repetitious. Observers of the day noted this departure. "Baltimore: The Book of Its Board of Trade," described the 1600 block of St. Paul as ". . . unquestionably the handsomest in the City."
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