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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Jennifer K. Cosham, 02/28/2004
Mount Royal Station
Inventory No.: B-26
Date Listed: 6/18/1973
Location: 1300 W. Mount Royal Avenue (now 1400 Cathedral Street), Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1896
Architect/Builder: Architects: E. Francis Baldwin and Josias Pennington
NHL Date: 12/8/1976
Description: This Italian Renaissance-style station, built of granite trimmed with limestone, is reminiscent of the Vendramini Palace in Venice. It consists of a central block seven bays wide and 2 1/2 stories high, flanked on either side by a three-bay wing of three stories. A clock tower, 143' high, projects from the center bay and is fronted by a small porte-cochere marking the main entrance. The site is unusual in its location in a depression between two tunnels, yet does not appear sunken or insignificant because of the dominant clock tower. The clock's illuminated faces house an 8-day pendulum clock manufactured by E. Howard of Boston. The main architectural feature of the building is a two-story waiting room which occupied the entire front of the central block. Upper floors contained the railroad's offices. In 1966, when the structure was remodeled as an art school, the interior floor space was increased by constructing a second floor in the vaulted waiting room, leaving the center as a lobby and preserving the massive columns, stamped metal ceilings, mosaic marble floors, and most of the decorative ironwork. The character of the exterior remains virtually unchanged, although the rear waiting platform and the baggage room have been enclosed to make space for a sculpture studio containing a foundry for casting bronze and a kiln. The train shed at the rear of the station virtually fills the area between the two tunnels and provides a sheltered access to the trains. It is a steel frame, gable roof structure that originally covered an area of 71' x 420'. The shad has been somewhat shortened at the southern end by the removal of several bays. The roof is supported on a series of trusses with arched lower chords connected longitudinally by I-beams. A central monitor supported by smaller, similar trusses runs the length of the ridge. All connections are of the modern riveted type. The wooden sheathing on timber purlins is covered with asphalt roll roofing. An elaborate wrought iron screen fronts the train shed on the north side. Significance: When it opened in 1896, the Mount Royal Station and Train Shed was one of the best examples of the harmonious blending of engineering and aesthetic values in an urban environment. Sited at the north end of the Howard Street Tunnel, entirely within the open cut between it and the Mount Royal Tunnel, it was both unobtrusive and convenient. The shelter provided by this below-grade site, combined with the train shed, made the Mount Royal Depot a hospitable embarkation point in foul weather. The city of Baltimore used the depot as its official welcoming point to greet distinguished visitors, including several Presidents, British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald, Cardinal Gibbons, and Queen Marie of Romania. The train shed which was partly responsible for the generally commodious environment was one of the last gable-roofed train sheds built in America. Like the station, it was of a smaller, less monumental scale than the large balloon sheds which were becoming fashionable at the time. It was a monument, however, in providing a sense of intimacy in an otherwise overwhelming urban environment.
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