MHT File Photo
617-631, Lexington St., W., Baltimore, Baltimore City
Located on the southwest corner of West Lexington Street and Pearl Street, the Rieman Block is a 19th century terraced brick commercial and residential block of three stories plus a mansard roof in height. The principal elevation (north), divided into four sections of two units each, has shop fronts on the first floor. The present appearance with Queen Anne influenced decorative detailing is the result of an 1880 building project that included construction of the two eastern sections and renovation of the western sections, which probably date from mid-century. The mansard roof, covered with slate shingles, is pierced by brick-faced gable-roofed dormers and supported by a modillioned cornice above brick corbeling. The principal façades of the 1880 sections are three bays wide per unit with stone lintels and sills. The elevations of the older Lexington Street façades are two bays wide per unit with wooden sills and brick flat arches. The shop fronts date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The interior space of each unit is arranged generally with a large and small room on the first floor, three rooms each on the second and third floors, and two under the roof. Access to the upper levels is gained through the interiors of the shops. The interior decorative detailing is generally simple with flat beaded boards with corner blocks as surrounds in the 1880 sections and architrave in the other parts. Slate mantels adorn the 1880 units and wood Greek Revival influenced ones in the earlier sections.
The Rieman Block is significant architecturally as an example of a type of 19th century urban structure that is unusual for the Lexington Market area in Baltimore. In the years following the Civil War, this section of the city which was once primarily residential rapidly developed into a commercial center focused on the market. Row houses were converted for commercial use on the first floor and residential above. New buildings were generally simple. The Rieman Block, although it appears to incorporate older buildings, stands out because it is elaborate compared to the others. The structure also achieves significance from its association with Joseph Rieman (1822-1898) for whom the block was developed. Rieman was a real estate developer and member of the boards of several corporations.