MHT File Photo
4545, Charles St., N., Baltimore, Baltimore City
Evergreen House is a large, ca. 1850-1860 Classical Revival-influenced mansion located in landscaped grounds at 4545 North Charles Street in Baltimore. The main block of the house is 48 feet wide by 50 feet deep, and has a service wing to the rear, 18 feet wide by 50 feet deep. Both the main block and the wing are three stories tall, constructed of painted brick, with a low-pitched, metal-clad hip roof. The symmetrical main façade faces west and is five bays wide; a two-story portico spans the central three bays. The window sills and bracketed lintels are of limestone; the first floor has floor-to-ceiling French windows. The wooden cornice has a classical entablature; a row of acanthus leaves defines the edge of the roof. The interior is characterized by a center-hall plan, and the majority of its rich detailing has conformed to the Classical mode throughout a series of remodelings between 1885 and 1941. A series of additions, including a late 19th century dining room (now a reading room) and 1928 library, extend to the east; a terrace east of the library leads to the formal gardens behind the house. A two-story wing, 19 feet wide by 110 feet long, stands to the north of the house; originally constructed to house a billiard room, bowling alley, and gymnasium, the wing was remodeled in 1922 as an art gallery and theatre, which functions it retains. The theatre is decorated with bright-colored stenciled designs, the work of set designer Leon Baskt. To the north of the theatre is a three-story servant’s wing, built in 1895. Southeast of the house is a brick carriage house.
The significance of Evergreen House derives from several sources. It exemplifies the type of residence maintained by America’s financial and industrial aristocracy during the period between the Civil War and World War II. The numerous expansions and remodelings of the house reflect the changing tastes and interest of its owners. This series of remodelings represents the work of a succession of distinguished Baltimore architects: The original ca. 1850-60 Classical Revival has been attributed to Niernsee and Nielson; the 1885 alterations, including the north wing containing a billiard room, bowling alley, and gymnasium, were carried out to the design of Charles L. Carson; in 1922, Lawrence Hall Fowler transformed these spaces into an art gallery and theatre (noted set designer Leon Baskt created the stenciled decoration of the theatre); Fowler was also the architect for all subsequent changes including the 1928 library. The house is further significant for its association, over the period 1878-1952, with the Garrett family, prominent in financial, industrial, philanthropic, and cultural affairs in the city and state. The property’s current appearance reflects the period of the Garretts’ occupation; the family’s furnishings, and collections of art and rare books, remain intact in the house, which is administered as a cultural and educational institution.