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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Moss Bittner, 06/2001
Sellers Mansion
Inventory No.: B-87
Date Listed: 12/28/2001
Location: 801 N. Arlington Avenue, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1868
Architect/Builder: Architect: Edward Davis
Description: The Sellers Mansion is a large three-story brick structure with refined architectural detailing of the late Victorian period. Constructed in 1868 by Edward Davis as the principal residence for Matthew Bacon Sellers, Sr., the grand symmetrical, five bay by eight bay, Italianate block form retains most of its original character-defining elements. Second Empire influences such as the Mansard roof and dormers speak to Mr. Sellers’ desire to assert his progressive and upwardly successful image, stylistically within Baltimore City’s built environment. The principal (west) façade, the most decorated façade, is finished with ornately carved wooden cornice trim and porch columns, carved sandstone window surrounds, and fine woodworking at the windows and main entranceway. The interior plan of the building consists of highly decorated social living spaces to either side of a central hall that connects to a grand stair at the West Lanvale Street entrance. The overall cruciform circulation pattern is repeated on all floor levels and provided for service circulation with entries at the basement level and a back stair at the rear of the property. The building has lost several elements of its original design over the years. Specifically, roof cresting was lost since 1955. Physical evidence indicates an Italianate style cupola was originally constructed at the convergence of the sloping hipped roof above the visible Mansard roof form. This feature was sadly lost sometime in the 20th century as well. Otherwise much of the original building fabric remains well intact. Significance: The Sellers Mansion, constructed in 1868-1869 for Matthew Bacon Sellers, Sr. (d. 1880) and his wife Anne L. (Lewis) Sellers, is a locally significant example of a type of urban residence of the socially affluent in Baltimore in the post Civil War years. Designed and constructed under the supervision of Edward Davis, the fine architectural detailing and skilled craftsmanship in construction, extant today, is significant for its architectural merits and late Victorian styling. The first house on the east side of Lafayette Square, the Sellers Mansion belongs to an important era of urban expansion centered around small parks. The property is also significant for its association with two generations of men, both named Matthew Bacon Sellers, who called the Sellers Mansion home during their periods of importance. It derives significance in the area of Transportation for association with the elder Sellers, who was President of the Northern Central Railway, a company which had considerable importance in the economic history of the region during the period. Sellers the younger (1869-1932), was born in the Mansion in the year of its completion. His achievements in aeronautical experimentation were profound. As an appointee of the Aeronautical Laboratory Commission, created in 1912, his leadership and guidance laid the groundwork for the later formation of NASA. His research, publications, and the accomplishments of his life merit the Sellers Mansion significance in the area of Engineering.


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