Breck Chapman, 02/2004
James E. Hooper House
100 E. 23rd Street & Saint Paul Street (NE corner), Baltimore, Baltimore City
Period/Date of Construction:
Architect: Charles L. Carson?; Builder: Benjamin Franklin Bennett
The James E. Hooper House is a large freestanding masonry house at the northeast corner of St. Paul and 23rd Streets. The house is situated among the buildings of the Old Goucher College complex, a non-contiguous National Register district. The building is a rectangular box with a steeply pitched gable roof, a small, two-story wing extending from the east wall, and a 2 ½-story bay window extension on the west side, in the southwest corner of the building. This extension has a small gable roof. Fenestration and detailing on the entire house are asymmetrical. There are two stories in the main section of the house, and two more stories in the gable. Additionally, in the southeast corner of the house, there are intermediate levels of two or three rooms each between the first and second stories, and between the second and third stories. The exterior walls are constructed of dark red bricks with terra cotta, brownstone, and granite trim. The roof is slate shingle. The main entrance to the house is on the south side, facing 23rd Street. The entrance is approached by a granite and brownstone stairway of 8 steps. The original wooden double door with a large beveled glass panel in each half lies behind a modern aluminum outer door. To the right of the entrance, at the intermediate level below the second story, is a square oriel, three bays wide and one bay deep, made of wood, and painted green. Above each first story opening is a 1/1 window on the second story. Directly above the oriel is a large, four-part window, similar to many Jacobethan and Chateauesque windows, with fixed panes set deep between thick mullions. The third story, within the gabled roof, has various dormers including pedimented, hipped, and shed-roofed dormers. All of the windows are 1/1, except for some small pivot windows in the hipped dormers. The fourth story has two eyelid dormers on the south slope, two small 1/1 windows on the east wall, and an adaptation of a Palladian window in the west wall. A rectangular cupola rises from the center of the roof, with a massive decorated chimney on its north side. There are four other similar chimneys placed asymmetrically on other parts of the house.
The James E. Hooper House draws significance from its architecture and its association with James E. Hooper (1839-1908) for whom the house was erected in 1886. As a freestanding masonry dwelling executed in the Queen Anne style, the James E. Hooper House embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type and method of construction not commonly found in inner-city Baltimore where the rowhouse is the dominant type of domestic architecture. Blocks of Queen Anne-influenced masonry rowhouses do exist in great numbers and several freestanding Queen Anne frame houses are dotted around the fringes of the inner-city area, but a freestanding masonry Queen Anne house in this section of the city is rare. The house contains the distinctive features (most of which remain intact) of one form in which the Queen Anne style was expressed throughout the century though primarily in urban areas. The important stylistic feature of these houses is the characteristic irregularity of plan and massing, small scale classical decorative detailing, and use of multiple steeply-pitched roofs combined with the general largeness and simplicity of form and use of somber colored masonry exterior materials (here red brick with dark colored rock faced stone trim) that is characteristic of the Romanesque style almost contemporary to the Queen Anne style. As with the residence of Hooper, the house acquires importance from association with a person significant in Baltimore history. Hooper was the president, at the time this house was built, of William E. Hooper and Sons, a cotton milling farm in Jones Falls Valley which was founded by his father and believed to be the largest such operation in Baltimore at the turn of the century. He also served at least one term in the state legislature and on the boards of several community and civic groups. Another source of significance is that the Automobile Club of Maryland, now the Maryland affiliate of the American Automobile Association, was founded in this house at a meeting held in 1901 with Hooper as the first president.