MHT File Photo
7500, Osler Drive, Towson, Baltimore County
Auburn House is located on the grounds of Towson University on Osler Drive between Towsontown Boulevard and Stevenson Lane. The structure was part of the Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital property from 1944 until it was acquired by the school (then Towson State College) in 1971. The house is a rectangular 3-story stone structure faced with scored stucco. The south façade is three bays wide with a door located in the center first floor bay. The sash windows are three lights wide and a varying number of lights long. Those on the first floor extend to floor level. Those on the second floor are 6/9, and those on the third, the size of the upper sash of the second. Decorative grilles remain in some of the second and third-floor windows. Shutters originally existed on all the windows. The central door on the south façade is sheltered by a porch supported by square piers with a recessed rectangular panel on each face. Pilasters of an identical design support the porch at the south wall of the house. Raised wooden urns were originally attached to the base of the pilasters. A transom exists above the double door, which is flanked by sidelights which extend above the door to the top of the transom. A balustrade exists on top of the porch, creating a balcony on the second floor. The urns that support the balustrade duplicate those on the pilasters below. A paired opening provided access. This second floor porch was previously glassed in The low-pitched slag roof, with 3’ overhanging eaves, concealed gutters, and skylights into the third floor bedrooms, slopes from all sides to a center point capped by a trap door. Interior detail includes acanthus patterned cornices, Italian marble mantels, and a carved mahogany baluster and handrail. A two-story addition was made to the west wall in the 1920s.
Auburn derives its architectural significance as an example of a surviving Greek Revival building in Maryland of which few other examples survive. Auburn demonstrates that the Greek Revival style depended on proportion rather than ornament. The architectural success of Auburn derives from its careful proportions in mass, roof pitch, and scaling of window openings. Even the wall treatment is a stucco with faint scoring. The progressively smaller window openings from the ground to the cornice is usually associated with Italianate structures. Auburn is associated with Rebecca Dorsey Ridgely, the wife of Charles Ridgely, builder of Hampton Mansion. She lived at Auburn from 1791 to 1812. Her association with the property adds currency to the theory that Auburn was a copy of Hampton on a five-eighths scale.