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Baltimore Building of the Week: Washington Mill

Reflecting the rich industrial heritage of the Jones Falls Valley, this week’s Baltimore Building of the Week is the 1807 Washington Mill building.

Image courtesy Jack Breihan

The Industrial Revolution began in England with simple water-powered machines to spin and later to weave cotton. Although Samuel Slater smuggled some of the designs into Rhode Island in 1793, the English mills dominated the market until 1807, when President Jefferson imposed an embargo on trade with England. The Washington Cotton Factory in Mount Washington dates from that year. Besides being the oldest industrial building in Baltimore, it is arguably the third oldest in the USA. Drawing power from the swiftly flowing Jones Falls, the sturdy stone mill was built to bear the weight of heavy machinery. Long rows of windows provided natural light for the three factory floors. This historic building, along with other pioneer industrial buildings on the site, has been imaginatively preserved as part of the mixed office and retail Mt. Washington Mill development. Other textile mills along the Jones Falls south of Mount Washington have been put to a variety of new uses, reminding Baltimoreans of their industrial heritage.

The rehabilitation of the historic mill complex began in 1988 and many more photos of the site may be found on the Mt. Washington Mill website. For more on the industrial heritage of the Jones Falls, check out this history from the Jones Falls Watershed Association or the Maryland Byways brochure on Falls Road (PDF).

Baltimore Building of the Week: Octagon Houses

This week’s Baltimore Building of the Week from Dr. John Breihan is an unusual dwelling type that can be found throughout the country– the Octagon Houses inspired by Orson Squire Fowler. More information on this fascinating example of American vernacular architecture can be found in the Octagon House, 1850-1860 by Deborah Holmes.

Mt. Washington, courtesy Jack Breihan

In 1848 the polymath Orson Squire Fowler of upstate New York (presumably not related to Baltimore’s Lawrence Hall Fowler) published A Home for All, a book extolling an octagonal floor plan as the most desirable residence. Later editions also extolled a primitive form of concrete construction. In this era of eclectic architecture, other free-thinkers were inclined to try it out. There is a particularly fine single-family octagon in Lutherville. Within today’s city limits, Rev. Elias Heiner of the German Reformed Church built an enormous octagon for the Mt. Washington Female Seminary, which occupied it between 1855 and 1861. For about a century the hilltop octagon housed Mount St. Agnes College, until it merged with Loyola University in the 1970s. It now is part of the Mt. Washington Conference Center. Across Smith Avenue at the foot of the hill stand two unusual octagon duplexes (demi-octagons?), reflecting perhaps a Baltimore tendency to turn anything into a rowhouse.

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Baltimore Building of the Week: Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church

This week’s edition of the Baltimore Building of the Week from Dr. John Breihan returns to Mount Washington, home to an Octogan House and the 1807 Washington Mill, to feature the 1878 Mount Washington Presbyterian Church,

Image courtesy Jack Breihan

In the decade following the Civil War many American buildings imitated Victorian Gothic and Second Empire from Britain and France. But some American architects struck out on their own distinctively American designs. The Mount Washington Presbyterian Church on Thornberry Road (now the Chimes, Inc.) is an example of the “stick style.” Built in 1878, the church is a celebration of the machine-cut lumber now coming on the market. Exposed wooden beams and vertical board-and-batten siding evoke the Gothic, but are far cry from the heavy masonry of Victorian Gothic.

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Weatherization, Retrofit Baltimore

Keep warm with weatherization and save money with historic tax credits in Mt. Washington

Your old house should not be cold this winter! Join Baltimore Heritage and Retrofit Baltimore for a free one-hour workshop to learn how to save money retrofitting your historic home for energy efficiency. If you are a home-owner in a historic district like Mount Washington, Roland Park, Guilford, or Hampden, you may be eligible for city and state historic tax credits for your next home repair or rehabilitation project. Many of the improvements that can help keep your home warm and lower your heating bills, including replacement HVAC systems, insulation, and wood window restoration, qualify for these tax credits.

Not sure if you are eligible? Take a look at our tax credits resource page for more information about the city and state tax credit programs then join us at Baltimore Clayworks in Mt. Washington on Thursday, November 29 for a quick introduction to how to weatherize your home while saving money with incentives for energy efficiency and historic tax credits. RSVP today!

Weatherization & Historic Tax Credits Workshop

Thursday, November 29, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Baltimore Clayworks – Mt. Washington, 5707 Smith Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209

Questions? Contact Eli Pousson, Baltimore Heritage at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org or Evie Schwartz, Retrofit Baltimore at eschwartz@retrofitbaltimore.org.

Learn to combine tax credits & weatherization with workshops in Mt. Washington and Union Square

We’re excited for Baltimore Green Fest this Saturday but we also have two more workshops with Retrofit Baltimore coming up in February and March. Our free one-hour workshops explain how to combine a home energy retrofit and city and state historic tax credits. These programs can help you save money on your heating bills and receive a tax credit on the cost of your upcoming home maintenance and rehabilitation projects!

Many neighborhoods both in north Baltimore – Roland Park, Mt. Washington, Guilford, Hamden – and in southwest Baltimore – Union Square, Hollins Market, Pigtown, Ridgely’s Delight – are located within historic districts and are eligible for the state historic tax credit program. Learn more about historic tax credits in our comprehensive guide, check if you are in a historic district, then RSVP for a workshop today!

Weatherization & Historic Tax Credits Workshop on February 12

Tuesday, February 12, 6:30pm to 7:30pm
Baltimore Clayworks – Mt. Washington, 5707 Smith Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209
RSVP today!

Free on-street is available in the Mt. Washington Village shopping area after 6:00pm. Please note this workshop will take place in the Baltimore Clayworks Gallery on the second floor – not in the Clayworks workshop. The Gallery is also located a short distance from the Mt. Washington Light Rail station.

Weatherization & Historic Tax Credits Workshop on March 14

Thursday, March 14, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Neighborhood Design Center, 1401 Hollins Street, Baltimore, MD 21223
RSVP today!

Free on-street parking is available in the area and the Neighborhood Design Center is only a few blocks from the Charm City Circulator Orange Route stop 211 at Hollins Market.

Questions? Please contact Eli Pousson, Baltimore Heritage at pousson@baltimoreheritage.org or Whitney Graham, Retrofit Baltimore at wgraham@retrofitbaltimore.org.