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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Julie Darsie, 06/2003
Woodberry Historic District
Inventory No.: B-1353
Date Listed: 12/29/2003
Location: Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: 1843-1956
Description: The Woodberry Historic District is a c. 1840-c. 1950 mill village located on the west side of the Jones Falls Valley in Baltimore City. Isolated from other neighborhoods by topography, transportation arteries, and parkland, Woodberry retains a pastoral, village-like atmosphere characterized by narrow streets and footpaths, front and back yards, and open space. Building types in Woodberry include c. 1840s stone duplexes, c. 1870s-c. 1950s rowhouses, c. 1870s-c. 1890s freestanding residences, five commercial buildings, and two churches. The irregular grid of Woodberry's narrow streets only connects to the rest of Baltimore via Clipper Road, Druid Park Drive, and 41st Street. Several footpaths, some paved with brick, lead form the houses to the mills and churches. The house at 2095 Rockrose Avenue is an early-19th century mansion, 2 1/2 stories high and five bays wide, of stuccoed masonry. It is now part of a large nursing home complex, Alice Manor, and is partially obscured by new construction. The early stone residences in Woodberry were constructed in the 1840s, and line Clipper Road at the east end of the district. They include 16 duplexes, one early single residence with a later attached duplex, and the supervisor's residence. All of these buildings are constructed of semi-coursed gneiss stone. Many have details such as rough quoins, stone lintels or sills, and brick chimneys. Between c. 1865 and 1900, many freestanding and duplex residences were built, particularly along Druid Park Drive. The freestanding residences are mostly frame, and 2 or 2 1/2 stories in height, with either side gable, front gable, flat, or hipped roofs. Most have front porches, and many have entrances on side elevations. The rowhouse is the most common building type in Woodberry. Rowhouses were constructed in the district from c. 1875 through the 1950s, long after the rest of Baltimore abandoned rowhouses for the suburbs. Unlike those in more densely settled Baltimore neighborhoods, Woodberry's rowhouses are set back from the street and typically have front porches. Woodberry's rowhouses are attached (part of a row), semi-detached (part of a duplex), and freestanding. Of the five purpose-built commercial buildings in Woodberry, only one dates to the 20th century. The oldest is a c. 1850 two-story brick building with a Palladian window in its gable end. This building served as Woodberry's first store/post office/social hall. The 1867 Woodberry Methodist Church is a gable-front Gothic Revival church with a three-story corner tower. Shiloh United Apostolic Church currently occupies the building. The Shechinah Temple (now Woodberry Bible Church) is a one-story gable-front frame building constructed in 1930. The Woodberry Historic District retains its integrity, and its location and setting, including its proximity to extant mills, the Jones Falls, and the railroad line, convey the symbiotic relationship between the residential neighborhood, industries, and transportation corridors. Significance: The Woodberry Historic District is significant for its association with the industrial development of Baltimore's Jones Falls Valley as a center of textile manufacture in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The district derives addition significance as an example of a type of industrial village that characterized the Jones Falls Valley in the period. Woodberry's cohesive collection of residential, commercial, and ecclesiastical buildings represents the range of architectural forms and expressions typical of the valley's industrial villages. Within its tightly confined area, Woodberry exhibits a cross-section of mill-workers' housing types in clearly legible layers of development. Stone duplexes from the 1840s reflecting the earliest phase of industrial housing; c. 1865-1890 brick or wood-frame single-family houses and duplexes, and small brick rows, as well as 20th century rowhouse blocks are each found in distinct sections of Woodberry. Neighboring Druid Hill Park and Cylburn Arboretum surround the district in a verdant landscape rare within Baltimore City, and Woodberry incorporates the small-scale, variegated texture more commonly found in rural communities of the period. The dwellings are primarily set along narrow, dead-end streets that terminate with wooded vistas or views to the mills. Buildings are sited on comparatively spacious, landscaped lots that provided space for gardening, small-scale agriculture and animal husbandry, and outdoor plumbing. The Woodberry Cotton Mill was founded by H. N. Gambrill, David Carroll, and associates in 1843 on the site of Elisha Tyson's Woodberry Flouring Mill. The last neighboring textile mill, Meadow Mill, was sold in 1956. Although some individual buildings have experienced alterations, overall the community retains remarkable integrity and clearly conveys its history as the focus of the Jones Falls Valley textile industry.
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