Home » Guilford

Tag: Guilford

“Reasonably in accordance with the canons of good taste” – Development of houses in Guilford

We are glad to share this last post in the series from Tom Hobbs, President of the Guilford Association highlighting 100 years of history in Guilford.

By 1912, construction of the roads and infrastructure was well underway in Guilford and marketing of building sites began in earnest. The sales office was initially located in an original house of the Guilford estate close to Chancery Road. Prospective residents were directed into the community from the southern beginnings of Greenway along a sycamore tree-lined Chancery Road to the sales office and then to the Company-developed Chancery Square. If you want a professional SEO services that help websites increase organic search drastically, check this out on AdInfusion.

The Roland Park Company built other model homes, many of them designed by Edward Palmer, scattered throughout the development to further the marketing efforts, including the marketing online, with the right SEO services and using different social apps, like Facebook and Buy Instagram likes, this would also be a Good resource for businessThe success of the garden suburb of Roland Park and the established aesthetic and social value of the community as a desirable area was extended to and enhanced in Guilford. The Roland Park Company marketed the Roland Park-Guilford connection and the desirability of the area as Baltimore’s prestigious location. The prospects for Guilford were made even greater by the move of Johns Hopkins University to the Homewood campus, the decision of the Maryland Episcopal Diocese to purchase the southern tip of Guilford with the intention of building a huge, twin-towered cathedral, and the access to downtown that was direct by extended trolley lines.. These houses were intended to influence the architecture in that particular section but most of the lots were sold to be developed by the buyer and their selected architect. While the Roland Park Company prided itself on planning Guilford for residents with a range of incomes accommodating cottages to mansions, as James Waesche observes in Crowning the Gravelly Hill, “ its intent in Guilford was clear— plenty of room for Baltimore’s biggest spenders.”

The gently rolling and forested character of the land of the Guilford estate presented an opportunity for a variety of lot sizes. Olmsted’s plan accommodated that intent and further preserved the natural setting in three community parks and private parks spotted in the center of 10 blocks. (Only one of the private inner block parks remains as commonly held by surrounding residents—the block bounded by Northway, Greenway and Stratford Road but in other blocks the areas remain open and undeveloped.)

Along the three boulevard-like spine roads of Charles Street, St. Paul Street and Greenway and in locations adjacent to them sites were divided for the development of large homes, many of which when built have been called “little short of baronial.” J. William Hill, the realtor whose company represented property transfers in the community, commented that “Guilford won almost immediate acceptance as the place to buy, and lawyers, bankers and a number of Hopkins and University physicians set the standard.”

The Roland Park Company’s architectural review committee had to approve all design proposals but allowed development of a number of architectural styles so long as they were skillfully executed, built of fine materials, compatible with the surroundings and “reasonably in accordance with the canons of good taste.” Within fourteen months of the start of sales, 38 houses had been erected and 54 were under construction.

New highly sought after commission opportunities were created for the finest architects to demonstrate their skills. The houses that resulted were to be an expression of the owner’s social status and taste. As Egon Verheyen states in the book Lawrence Hall Fowler, Architect, “he was a society architect and the documents assembled in the file on individual commissions attests to his role and the function architecture played in the circles which he frequented.” Styles of Guilford homes were typically based on classic colonial American architecture or European models but the Arts and Crafts influence is also seen particularly in cottage designs. The community thrives on the variety of styles in harmonious relationship.

Edward L. Palmer (1877–1952). Courtesy the Guilford Association.
Edward L. Palmer (1877–1952). Courtesy the Guilford Association.

A previous article in this series has discussed the great influence Palmer and Lamdin had on Guilford architecture through the design of many of the community’s most admired homes. Also particularly Palmer was a significant force as the architect for the Roland Park Company and later during the development of Guilford as a key member of the Company’s architectural review committee. The Company retained a list of recommended architects that had demonstrated their residential design skills. The inclusion on this list was highly sought after. Interestingly in the Roland Park files there is a 1913 letter from Mattu & White to Edward Bouton that attests to the value of being on the approved list. They state in the letter:

“. . . as we think our past work compairs (sic) favorably with the work of many of the thirteen Architects on your list, we respectfully request you add our name to your list of Architects which you recommend in connection with the development of Guilford. . . . The discrimination against us is not only harmful to our practice, but most damaging to our reputation. . . .”

Mattu & White ultimately met the screening test and went on to design many of Guilford’s impressive homes.

The core group of architects that molded Guilford, in addition to Palmer and Lamdin, include Laurence Hall Fowler, Howard Sill, John Russell Pope, Mattu & White, Bayard Turnbull and several other designers who had multiple commissions for Guilford homes.

Guilford residence on Whitehead designed by Laurence Hall Fowler. Courtesy UMBC Albin O. Kuhn Library Digital Collections, Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection, P75-54-N1038g.
Guilford residence on Whitehead designed by Laurence Hall Fowler. Courtesy UMBC Albin O. Kuhn Library Digital Collections, Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection, P75-54-N1038g.

Laurence Hall Fowler was classically trained as an architect. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University and Columbia, traveled through Italy and after a brief apprenticeship in two New York architectural firms he left for Paris in 1904 and was admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He returned to Baltimore and worked briefly at the firm of Wyatt and Nolting. In 1906 he opened his own office making his name designing the homes for those who could afford the luxury of fine taste in Guilford, Blythewood, Gibson Island and the Greenspring Valley. The Garretts were long-time clients and he redesigned the interior of Evergreen House, including the addition of the library. Fowler designed 15 Guilford homes. Examples can be seen 105 and 107 Charlcote Road, 24 and 26 Whitfield Road, and 205 and 207 Wendover Roads. At 33 Warrenton Road there is a particularly fine Tudor revival home that Fowler designed for Harry C. Block. Fowler designed his own home on a Highfield Road site in Tuscany Canterbury— the property currently owned by John Waters.

Howard Sill was a student of colonial American architecture and his designs were focused primarily on modern adaptations of colonial homes. He had carefully studied and measured details and proportions of 18th century Maryland and Virginia buildings and he executed his designs with great care to capture authenticity. In Roland Park he had designed homes on Overhill and Somerset Roads, Merryman Court and Northfield Place and University Parkway. He was well known to Bouton and he like Palmer and Fowler participated on the Architectural Review Committee. He designed at least 13 Guilford homes. Examples can be seen at 204 E. Highfield Road (the Sherwood House), 4405 and 4214 Greenway, 36 Charlcote Place and 3901 St. Paul Street.

John Russell Pope, 1910. Courtesy the Library of Congress, cph.3b15402.
John Russell Pope, 1910. Courtesy the Library of Congress, cph.3b15402.

In 1914, New York based architect John Russell Pope was selected by James Swan Frick to design Charlcote House on the site in the center of Charlcote Place. Pope studied architecture at Columbia, won the Rome Prize and attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His designs were considered part of the American Renaissance expressed through revival and adaptation of classic styles. He designed homes for the Vanderbilts and many public buildings including the National Archives, the National Gallery, the Jefferson Memorial and the Baltimore Museum of Art where he worked with Howard Sill. While Charlcote House is the only Pope designed house in Guilford, its impact has been great. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Drawing by Mottu & White. Courtesy UMBC Albin O. Kuhn Library Digital Collections, Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection, P75-54-1611g.
Drawing by Mattu & White. Courtesy UMBC Albin O. Kuhn Library Digital Collections, Hughes Company Glass Negatives Collection, P75-54-1611g.

Mattu & White designed 19 Guilford homes – after protesting to Bouton about their exclusion from the Roland Park Company list of approved architects! They proved to be talented in interpreting a number of architectural styles. Their designs can be seen at 3907, 4402 and 4110 Greenway, 3, 16 and 34 Whitfield Road and 40, 42 and 43 Warrenton Road, 229 Lambeth Road and 6 Wendover Road.

Photograph of the “Turnbull House” at 223 Chancery Road, former home of noted artist Grace Hill Turnbull by Greg Pease. Courtesy the Guilford Association.
Photograph of the “Turnbull House” at 223 Chancery Road, former home of noted artist Grace Hill Turnbull by Greg Pease. Courtesy the Guilford Association.

Bayard Turnbull is perhaps best known for the design of his artist sister’s home at 223 Chancery Road and for renting a cottage on his Towson property to F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. The Grace Turnbull house is distinguished by its architectural style, an eclectic mix of Spanish Mission and Arts and Crafts elements— a unique structure in Guilford. Turnbull in architectural circles is also noted for designing the Italianate mansion at 4101 Greenway and 4105 Greenway.

This group of architects because of their stature, their skill in interpreting classic designs and their influence within the Roland Park Company are in large part responsible for setting the stage for the architectural quality found in Guilford. A number of other skilled architects contributed to the community whole through their commissions adding significant designs to the harmonious blend of consistently high design standards. The quality of design and construction and the Roland Park Company’s planning, standards and controls together with the provision for continuing oversight have left a legacy that ensures that Guilford will endure as one of the region’s prime places to live.

Thank you again to Tom Hobbs for sharing his writing and research. This piece was originally published in the Spring 2013 issue of The Guilford News.

All the “conveniences and amenities of life” – Construction begins in Guilford

After a long hiatus, we are glad to resume our series from Tom Hobbs, President of the Guilford Association on the history of Guilford’s architecture and development.

Almost immediately after the merger of the Guilford Park Company with the Roland Park Company in 1911 work began on the development of Guilford. A community plan prepared by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. existed and Edward H. Bouton had already been discussing refinements of the plan with Olmsted before the consolidation of the two companies had taken place.

The Roland Park Company sought to assure that Guilford would be a very special place of quality offering all the “conveniences and amenities of life” and the highest “artistic and aesthetic considerations.” In addition to the guidance provided by Olmsted and Edward Palmer, the Roland Park Company’s architect, Bouton brought together experts in landscape and architectural design and the development of suburban communities.

Photograph of Grosvenor Atterbury, 1904. Courtesy New York Office for Metropolitan History.
Photograph of Grosvenor Atterbury, 1904. Courtesy New York Office for Metropolitan History.

At the outset before there were any improvements the Company appointed a Design Advisory Board. In addition to Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and Edward Palmer, the Board members were J.B. Noel Wyatt, a noted Baltimore architect and president of the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects; Grosvenor Atterbury, an architect, urban planner and writer who had been given the commission by the Russell Sage Foundation for the model housing community of Forest Hills Gardens; and Howard Sill, Baltimore architect and designer of a number of Roland Park homes. Bouton when serving as General Manager of Forest Hills Gardens and also remaining as the president of the Roland Park Company had worked both with Atterbury and Olmsted. This group through a series of conferences formulated the principals that were to guide the development of Guilford. It was a group with whom Bouton felt comfortable and shared conviction.

The Roland Park Company brought to the development of Guilford an experience of more than 20 years handling property of similar character. It had the experience in details of design and construction of physical improvements as well as the management and administration of the undertaking. The Company was organized with the following divisions: Architectural Department of Design and Construction, Engineering Department, Building Department and Gardening Department. When you need to have landscaping ideas over at nbglandscapes.com.au, NBG Landscapes provide excellent customer service and our finished product is of the highest quality.

In the spring of 1912, site work started in earnest. Grading was undertaken in preparation for road construction, water, sewer and utility lines installed and shortly after road paving and planting started. The systems and roads were initially private and were designed to the highest standards. Olmsted had studied every block of the development, taking care to preserve significant trees and preparing landscape plans for the roadways and community parks. Guilford was marketed as the Roland Park-Guilford District, a prime area of restricted development. Lot sales were undertaken immediately after construction of the infrastructure was underway. The community was planned and marketed as offering a wide range of housing opportunities but with much opportunity for manor-like properties.

Photograph of homes at Chancery Square under construction in 1913, taken from location of  Saint Martins Road. Courtesy the Guilford Association.
Photograph of homes at Chancery Square under construction in 1913, taken from location of Saint Martins Road. Courtesy the Guilford Association.
Edward L. Palmer (1877–1952). Courtesy the Guilford Association.
Edward L. Palmer (1877–1952). Courtesy the Guilford Association.

The first development of housing was undertaken by the Roland Park Company itself with Edward Palmer as architect. Homes on Chancery Square, built in 1912–13, were the first Guilford homes followed by Bretton Place and York Courts in 1914. All were designed with a distinctly English village appearance, showing design elements adopted from English rural cottages. The six paired Tudor-revival homes of Chancery Square are built surrounding three sides of a street-centered green. They combine half-timbered stucco portions with brick, have steep slate roofs and tall distinctive brick chimneys. They are romantic in appearance and were intended to set an architectural tone and standard and continue the style of homes recently introduced in Roland Park. With fanfare the public was invited to visit these first Guilford homes in 1913.

The Bretton Place homes reflect both English Tudor-revival architecture and the cluster of attached homes within a pillared entrance cul-de-sac very reminiscent of what Attterbury was designing for Forest Hills Gardens. They were unique for Baltimore. As stated by Hayward and Belfoure in The Baltimore Rowhouse,

“Palmer designed Bretton Place, freely combining Tudor half-timbering with elegant Flemish bond, herringbone, and diaper-pattern brickwork using glazed headers; steep slate roofs with hipped and shed-roofed dormers, irregularly massed, oversize chimneys; multi-paned windows, double and triple sash; and a combination of round-arched and steeply pedimented craftsman entryways.”

Photograph of Bretton Place, a group of 17 homes in 3 separate structures, designed by Edward Palmer and completed in 1914. Courtesy the Guilford Association.
Photograph of Bretton Place, a group of 17 homes in 3 separate structures, designed by Edward Palmer and completed in 1914. Courtesy the Guilford Association.

Bretton Place was designed in response to Bouton’s direction that a series of very elegant “group homes” be built on the outer fringes of the new development. He directed Palmer to come up with a design for “fashionable, highly attractive rows that would be appropriate to the elite suburb and that would provide an elegant housing choice for those persons who did not need the size or want the responsibility of maintaining a large house and yard.” The Bretton Place homes were put on the market in 1914, priced from $6,950 (in fee) for the seven-room version, to $9,875 for the ten-room version According to the July 19, 1914 Baltimore Sun, the company offered to have a motorcar waiting at the entrance to Guilford or “better still, one of our salesmen will gladly call at any designated time, at your residence or office, and take you to Bretton Place.”

York Court is made of 3 groups of 4 houses each arranged in an open-ended rectangle green facing York Road. Courtesy Kenneth Hubbard/Guilford Association.
York Court is made of 3 groups of 4 houses each arranged in an open-ended rectangle green facing York Road. Courtesy Kenneth Hubbard/Guilford Association.

About the same time The Roland Park Company was developing Bretton Place, the York Courts were being constructed by the company to the north facing York Road (Greenmount Avenue). These houses also designed by Palmer were intended to complement the Georgian-revival style houses anticipated to be built on the interior lots. Arranged in an open-ended rectangle facing the street, each of the three groups constituted a York Court and shared common front lawn as well as small back yards. The houses were placed back from the street with trees and greenery around them.

The Roland Park Company placed much initial attention on the eastern, northern and southern edges of the Guilford site and took responsibility for the housing that was constructed there because they could not control the development of the areas to the east, north and south of the Guilford tract. As was characteristic of many Olmsted community plans, streets on the outer edges of the tract were designed with the house lots facing inward, toward a green or a cul-de-sac, thus ensuring the privacy of the new development and insulating the inner more expensive house lots from the “lesser neighborhoods” outside of the development. Along York Road, the company had taken yet a further step of designing and constructing the housing shortly after the opening of Guilford. On the north edge, the Norwood cottages would be Palmer designed and company built in a similar action. Many prime inner lots were sold in 1913 and 1914 with active construction following but development was slowed by the outbreak of the World War I.

This piece was originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of The Guilford News. Look out for our next guest post from Tom on the history of Guilford soon!

“The whole place is good” – Edward L. Palmer and the architecture of Guilford

Our latest post in our ongoing series on the 100 year history of Guilford is by Walter Schamu FAIA on the role of Edward L. Palmer. Enjoy Walter’s thoughtful history of Palmer and his firm Palmer & Lamdin:

Edward L. Palmer (1877–1952), courtesy the Guilford Association
Edward L. Palmer (1877–1952), courtesy the Guilford Association

It would be impossible to discuss the history of Baltimore’s Guilford community without serious attention being given to the architect Edward L. Palmer. Palmer and his firm of Palmer and Lamdin designed many of the significant residences in Guilford, as well as Roland Park, Homeland and Gibson Island.

Edward L. Palmer was an 1899 graduate of Johns Hopkins and, in 1903, the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture. He began his career in architecture as the in-house architect to the Roland Park Company working for Edward Bouton, the developer of the new planned Roland Park community and Guilford. During the time as architect for the Roland Park Company he designed some of the first Guilford homes including the greatly admired Tudor Revival Bretton Place and Chancery Square (1913).

It was once reported by Palmer’s daughter, Ann Sinclair-Smith, that Bouton sent young Mr. Palmer to Switzerland to see, first hand, how houses can be constructed on steep slopes. No doubt this was to prepare him for the “unbuildable” terrain of much of northern Roland Park. In 1911 Palmer and Bouton traveled to Europe together looking for ideas and studying domestic architecture. In 1917 he left the Roland Park Company and began his firm as “Edward L. Palmer Jr. Architect.”At this point begins the story of a truly remarkable architectural firm which, through its many iterations, designed over 200 residences and hundreds of institutional, religious and corporate buildings in the Maryland region and beyond.

As quoted in Mr. Palmer’s obituary in the Baltimore Sun, October 27, 1945:

“It was during the period from 1907 to 1917, when he served as architect and a member of the Committee on Approval of Plans for the Roland Park Company, that Mr. Palmer’s work in residential development earned him national recognition among architects and real-estate developers. For under his guidance, the Roland Park Company was one of the first in the United States to employ competent landscape architects and engineers for site development, to require standards of excellence in design, to impose restrictions on land use and make adequate provisions for maintenance of streets, plantings and parks after completion of the initial development. As architects for the company, Mr. Palmer successfully demonstrated—by designing and supervising the construction of several hundred individual residences—that the insistence of high architectural standards was economically feasible.”

Early in his practice his work focused on two large housing developments. The first was for workers housing for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Dundalk, Maryland and the second was for the Dupont Company in Wilmington, Delaware. These were multi-unit, rowhouse type structures of a modest scale, but clearly with distinctive architectural character. But it was his private residential work in the still emerging neighborhoods north of Baltimore City that some of his best work can still be seen and enjoyed. This is especially true when, after 1920, William B. Lamdin joined the firm. In 1925, the firm name was changed by adding new partners to become “Palmer, Willis and Lamdin.” Again in 1929 it changed to simply “Palmer and Lamdin” which had it offices at 513 North Charles Street, in downtown Baltimore.

4001 Greenway, courtesy Tom Hobbs
4001 Greenway, courtesy Tom Hobbs

In the early years of his practice, Palmer set the course for his firm to eventually flourish in Baltimore. One of his first commissions in 1915, seemingly undertaken while he was still with the Roland Park Company, was a house for C. Braxton Dallam at 4001 Greenway. This house was constructed on the site of the original Guilford estate of A.S. Abell. Referred to by local architectural historian, Peter Kurtze, as a “baronial Jacobean mansion” the house is an imposing display of brick arches and steeply pitched roofs, ornate chimneys and other refinements that must have been the hot topic of its day.

Bill Landin, courtesy the Guilford Association
William D. Lamdin (1883–1945) joined the firm in 1923, courtesy the Guilford Association

Later on, in his work with partner Bill Lamdin, the firm began to develop a definite style, especially in the houses that recall English or French country architecture. Bill Lamdin, who joined the firm in 1923, had served as an Army artillery officer in France in World War I and must have seen and possibly sketched the vernacular architecture of rural France, as so much of its design characteristics are seen in their work.

For an article in the Baltimore News in April 1916, Edward L. Palmer is asked directly “What do you think to be the significance of the houses of Guilford from your point of view?” Palmer responded in his predictably modest manner:

“I can’t give a finished essay off hand on the subject but I can tell you in plain talk what I think it means for us. The main thing about the houses in Guilford, it seems to me, is that they show a serious attempt on the part of the architects to design stuff that is in ‘good grammar.’ That may sound queer, but it is the best simile I can think of. The architecture there is more comparable to correct English than anywhere else . . . Roland Park and Guilford are now really developments that we can be proud of. They possess some splendid houses and many more that are very good. For instance, it isn’t as if Guilford were a place you could find one or two examples of good architecture—the whole place is good.”

3700 Greenway, courtesy Greg Pease
3700 Greenway, courtesy Greg Pease

Charles M. Nes (who became a partner in the firm with L. McLane Fisher in 1945, after World War II, when the firm became “Palmer, Lamdin, Fisher, Nes”) said that once Bill Lamdin completed the “Gateway Houses” at Greenway and St. Paul Street in 1925, the firm’s future was secure.These two houses, 3701 St. Paul Street and 3700 Greenway, are not identical or mirror images, but rather complementary in design and present a classic example of the best of Palmer and Lamdin’s work. Bill Lamdin was the designer and his talents are on full display—all the trademark elements are handled with tremendous skill including the steeply pitched roof, the variegated and rusticated slate, decorative masonry, ironwork and ornate chimneys and cornices.These elements will occur again and again in the firm’s work with other touches often added such as stair tower turrets, dovecotes, stone and brick facade interplay.

Other notable and classic examples of their work can be seen throughout Guilford and include 14 St. Martins Road (1929), 3707 Greenway (1929), 4014 Greenway (1914), 4201 and 4205 Underwood Road (1926), 212 Wendover Road (1922), 219 Northway (1925), 4200 Greenway (1914). 101 Wendover Road (1929), 28 Charlcote Place (1929), 210 E. Highfield Road (1926), 7 Stratford Road (1928), The Roland Park Apartments (1925), Second Presbyterian Church (1924). The streets of Roland Park, Guilford and Homeland are rich with the architectural works of this firm. The architectural files of the Roland Park Company retained at the Langsdale Library of the University of Baltimore, document that Edward Palmer and Palmer and Lamdin designed more than 150 Guilford homes, many of them iconic examples of domestic architecture and displaying a mastery of many styles.

This piece was originally published in the Summer 2012 issue of The Guilford News. Walter Schamu FAIA, is president and founder of SMG Architects. He is respected throughout the region for his expertise in historic architecture, and is the founder of Baltimore Architecture Foundation.

“Unusual care” – Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and the plan for Guilford

After a bit of a summer break, we have our latest guest blog post by Tom Hobbs, President of the Guilford Association from his series on Guilford’s 100 years of history. Find out more about upcoming events in Guilford on the Guilford Centennial Facebook page including our September house tour with historian Ann Giroux!

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., courtesy U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., courtesy U.S. Commission of Fine Arts

The Directors of the Guilford Park Company, determined to create a garden suburb of the highest quality, engaged the Olmsted Brothers to prepare the plan for development of the Guilford community. The Olmsted Brothers company was the foremost landscape firm in the country. Its principals were Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and John Charles Olmsted, the son and stepson of the late Frederick Law Olmsted, the dean of American landscape architects and founder of the firm, designer of Central Park, numerous other city park systems, great estates and plans for many noted institutions.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. was the principal who primarily worked on the Guilford plan and landscape design. He was a highly respected designer, widely regarded as the intellectual leader of the American city planning movement in the early twentieth century. In 1901, he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as a member of the McMillan Commission to plan for the restoration of the Washington Mall and other aspects of the L’Enfant plan for Washington. He had a lifetime commitment to national parks and planned many of them; he designed park systems for many cities, including Baltimore and he designed a number of planned communities.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, NPS
Illustration comparing a 1908 map projecting the Baltimore City grid through the Guilford area with an early street plan prepared by Olmsted for the Guilford Park Company prior to 1911 when it merged with the Roland Park Company, courtesy the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, NPS/Guilford Association.

When the Guilford Park Company acquired the Abell estate, the City already had on paper a plan to continue the grid street system north throughout the estate property. Such a plan would have disregarded the topography and devastated the lush forested areas. The Directors rejected such a plan and were determined that there should be a green garden suburb reflecting the value of the countryside supplied with urban conveniences but removed from the city’s “congestion, noise, crime and vice.”

Illustration of Ebenezer Howard's Garden City plan, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies
Illustration of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City plan, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Olmsted was a proponent of garden suburbs in America where people live harmoniously together with nature, a concept advocated by Ebenezer Howard in England. The Guilford site was surveyed and existing trees and vegetation were inventoried in detail. He laid out streets to follow contours of the land, preserve stately trees and valued vegetation and generally enhance the natural beauty. Traffic was to be concentrated on a few wide streets with pedestrian walks along well planted areas. Most roadways were to be quiet and safe with traffic channeled to the thoroughfares.

When the Guilford Park Company merged with the Roland Park Company there was no question that Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. would continue as planner and landscape designer. He had designed the western portion of Roland Park and he and Edward Bouton, now the president of the Roland Park Company, had consistent ideas about the development of the garden suburb and specifically the objectives for Guilford. They also were working together on Forest Hills Gardens, the Russell Sage Foundation developed planned community, outside of New York City. There Bouton was general manager, concurrent with his role as president of the Roland Park Company, and Olmsted was the planner and landscape designer. Olmsted also was engaged in other Baltimore projects, including the design for the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, the Charles Street approach to Guilford and a plan for the Baltimore park system.

Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, NPS
Detail from the Olmsted Plan, courtesy Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, NPS

When the Roland Park Company took over the development of Guilford in 1911 plans were sufficiently prepared for the company’s engineers to design the infrastructure systems and begin detailed designs for the roadways. Olmsted continued to refine the design and prepared road and landscape designs for each block of Guilford. As the Roland Park Company information brochure for potential buyers indicates: “The planting of trees and shrubs in the parks and sidewalk lawns, along slopes and in other unoccupied spaces, has been made a distinctive feature of Guilford. The plans for this planting have been developed by Mr. Olmsted in the form of a carefully studied unified design for the whole property… Unusual care has been taken in the designation of the trees and shrubs to be used.”

Of great importance to Olmsted in his designs for new communities was “the separateness and internal integrity that would promote tranquility and give rise to the development of a sense of ‘shared community’ among their residents.” In addition to the general lush planting and walkway system, three community parks were planned (the Sunken Park, Stratford Green and the Little Park). In addition, Olmsted introduced private parks, little parcels of land spotted in the centers of many Guilford blocks as further evocations of “natural” land.

There were other conditions unique to the Guilford site that required careful consideration by Olmsted and Bouton. The Episcopal Diocese had purchased a site at the southwest edge of Guilford on which it planned to build a large, twin-towered cathedral, requiring Olmsted to plan options for both the cathedral site and the important southern entrance to Guilford. All along the eastern edge of the site on the east side of Greenmount Avenue/York Road was the grid street pattern and unplanned development; on the north was Cold Spring Lane and uncertain development. To address the issue of the north edge of the site that abutted Cold Spring Lane, Olmsted used “back-turning” streets at Whitfield Road, Bedford Place and Charlcote Place. English cottage houses were built along the eastern end surrounding a private “close.”

Roland Park Company Magazine
Courtesy Sheridan Libraries JHU

The eastern edge of the Guilford site presented a greater challenge. It was here that the Roland Park Company undertook initial development, building the architecturally admired Tudoresque houses of Bretton Place and Chancery Square, creating an internally focused English village-like environment. Handsome and setback row houses were built along Greenmount Avenue to the south and the homes of York Courts surrounding private green spaces were built to the north. At the Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, Massachusetts there are over 500 drawings and records covering the Guilford plans. In addition there are relevant Olmsted records at the Smithsonian and many additional records related to the planning among the Roland Park Company files now at the Johns Hopkins Library. These all are being searched for the planned book on Guilford.

Both Olmsted and Bouton were committed to the importance of protective covenants as the best means for assuring “stability” and “permanence.” Without control on development, they had observed high quality single family communities transformed by conversion to multi-dwelling and commercial uses and value change and character loss. Nuisance laws and design guidelines had proven to be insufficient protection against decline and change. Deed restricted covenants, including design controls, they argued protect purchasers against unwanted change that might “destroy the setting and they assure long-term well-being.” The collaborative work of Bouton and Olmsted in refining protective covenants became a model for similar provisions that are still widely used.

At the presentation of the Pugsley Gold Medal Award in 1953 honoring champions of parks and conservation, it was observed:

“Carrying on the ideals of his father, and with many of his father’s special qualities and characteristics, Olmsted was an outstanding leader in advancing landscape architecture to a status of honor and recognition among the professions. Indeed, for over a half-century Olmsted was the preeminent practitioner and spokesman for landscape architecture and comprehensive planning both interested in the interrelationship of people and their environment.”

Olmsted summarized his philosophy about landscape architecture in the following terms:

“In dealing with existing real landscapes, I have been guided by an injunction impressed on me by my distinguished father: namely, that when one becomes responsible for what is to happen to such a landscape his prime duty is to protect and perpetuate whatever of beauty and inspirational value, inherent in that landscape, is due to nature and to circumstances not of one’s contriving, and to humbly subordinate to that purpose any impulse to exercise upon it one’s own skill as a creative designer.”

Guilford residents and the City of Baltimore are the fortunate beneficiaries of Olmsted’s insight and design skills, living in and with one of the country’s most admired and lasting communities.

This piece was originally published in the Winter 2012 issue of The Guilford News. Thanks again to Tom Hobbs for sharing his research – take a look at Tom’s previous posts on the early history of the A.S. Abell estate and developer Edward Bouton.

“The place to live in the city” – Edward H. Bouton’s visionary plan for the Roland Park-Guilford District

Roland Park Company's Guilford Sales Office, ourtesy the Guilford Association
Roland Park Company’s Guilford Sales Office, courtesy the Guilford Association

We’re excited to share our latest guest blog post from Tom Hobbs, President of the Guilford Association in a series on Guilford’s 100 years of history. The Guilford Association is planning many great events this year to recognize the centennial anniversary which you can find on their website or on the Guilford Centennial Facebook page. 

When the Guilford Park Company merged with the Roland Park Company in 1911, Roland Park had been under development for 20 years. The venture to develop the 800 acres that originally constituted Roland Park was made possible by a syndicate of the Lands Trust Company of London, the source of most of the initial capital, Jarvis and Conklin, their agents in a Kansas City mortgage trust company, and a group of Baltimore land owners and investors. Following the market crash of 1893 Jarvis and Conklin filed receivership and shortly after local Baltimore investors bought out the interest of the Lands Trust Company.

Through the restructure of the Roland Park Company and the change in ownership and directors, Edward H. Bouton, the secretary of the original syndicate and overseer and planner of the development, remained the visionary force. He became the general manager, developed Roland Park plat by plat, laid out the streets, installed the water, sewer and electric lines, devised the controls on development and sold property lots.

fall_2011_02
Edward H. Bouton, courtesy Guilford Association

He engaged Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of the preeminent landscape architect, to design the plat west of Roland Avenue, and was the force behind the extensive planning and innovative ideas that had gained for Roland Park the reputation as a premier example of site design, land use and architectural controls that were modeled in the growing garden suburb movement in America. As observed in the Roland Park History, the planners “were less than innovative in the social dimensions of development, advocating the deliberate exclusion of economic and racial diversity.” Born in Kansas City, Bouton had a varied career before his focus on Baltimore land development. He was in the grocery business after high school and studied law at night. He moved to Colorado to raise sheep and cattle. He returned to Kansas City to marry and there became involved in land development.

How Bouton was selected to steer the development of Roland Park is unclear. His vision for the area evolved as he better understood the Baltimore market, the great attractiveness of the land north of the City and as he interacted with the designers the company had engaged. “Our land is the most fashionable, as well as, naturally the most beautiful part of the suburbs of Baltimore,” he wrote. Clearly Bouton saw the potential of the Guilford estate and the directors of the Guilford Park Company no doubt were impressed with the success of Roland Park. Bouton wrote to Olmsted, asking for a map to be prepared showing the consolidation of the lands of Roland Park and Guilford before it was decided to merge the developments.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., courtesy U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., courtesy U.S. Commission of Fine Arts

The Guilford Park Company had started planning for development of the Abell estate by hiring T. T. Tongue, a real estate expert, but Tongue died before much progress was made. They then hired Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to prepare the master plan and landscape plans. Obviously Bouton had established a relationship with Olmsted and likely was fully familiar with the Guilford proposals. When the consolidation of the Guilford and Roland Park Companies took place in 1911 the plans were available and development could shortly begin. Site work started in the spring of 1912.

The directors of the new entity were a formidable force of Baltimore influence: Henry F. Baker, Charles C. Fawcett and Robert Garrett, all members of Robert Garrett & Sons; Douglas H. Gordon, president of the Baltimore Trust Company; William H. Grafflin, business man and investor; George Miller, president of the Mar-Del Mobile Company; and Edward H. Bouton, the visionary planner. Bouton was at the helm as president.

Bouton determined to market Guilford as an extension of Roland Park and ads generally referred to this desirable swath of north Baltimore as the Roland Park-Guilford District. While Guilford was to be developed with housing of various sizes Bouton and the company envisioned a community of the highest architectural style and quality. The restrictions developed in Roland Park were expanded by strengthening the design review process, giving the company the right to reject plans “for aesthetic and other reasons” and to take into account whether the proposed house was in “harmony” with its surroundings.

Guilford Association
Boulton Memorial , courtesy Guilford Association

Bouton and Edward L. Palmer, the Roland Park Company’s architect and later designer of many of Guilford’s most noteworthy homes, traveled to Europe in 1911 looking for ideas and studying the domestic architecture. Together they designed a community that was to become the most desirable suburb in Baltimore, “filled with impressive Georgian revival, Spanish colonial, Tudor and Jacobean revival mansions,” as well as romantic cottages “making it the place to live in the city.”

This piece was originally published in the Fall 2011 issue of The Guilford News. Fourteen years after Bouton’s death in 1941, the Guilford community dedicated a memorial at the Gateway Park to the planner and developer who contributed so much to the development of the neighborhood. Look out for our next guest post from Tom on the history of Guilford soon!