Baltimore Building of the Week: Italianate Rowhouse

This week’s edition of the Baltimore Building of the Week series from Dr. John Breihan comes a few days late as we finalize preparations for our 50th Anniversary Celebration this Friday. Please join us for the open house tours on Mount Vernon Place at 4:30 PM or for an evening of Preservation Awards, dinner, and dancing starting at 6:30 PM. This single Italianate rowhouse is the first in a three week long focus on Italianate rowhouses in Baltimore,

Image courtesy Jack Breihan

The heavy carved wooden cornice of this rowhouse was based on the palaces of the great trading families of the Italian Renaissance – the Medici, for example. Perhaps the adoption of this “Italianate” style reflected the booming commerce of a growing Baltimore. At any rate, from the 1850s on, Italianate became the most popular architectural style in Baltimore for the next four decades. Unlike the semi-fortified houses of the Renaissance elites, Italianate rowhouses featured huge windows, increasingly taking advantage of advances in glassmaking that replaced multi-paned windows with window frames incorporating extensive sheets of glass, sometimes triple hung for extra height. Arched doorways were approached by white marble steps. Italianate houses could be either brick or stone. But carved wood cornices crowning flat or shed roofs always remained the hallmarks of this style.

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