Continuing the Baltimore Building of the Week feature for the second week of our 50th anniversary year at Baltimore Heritage, Dr. John Breihan provides a quick look at the 1765 Robert Long House at 812 S. Ann Street,
Although last week’s Mount Clare Mansion is older, the Robert Long House in Fells Point is the oldest surviving city house in Baltimore. A symmetrical Georgian row house, its pent roof signals that its builder, the merchant Robert Long, originally came from Philadelphia. Once derelict, the Long House was saved by the Preservation Society of Fells Point and Federal Hill, which has its headquarters there.
The Robert Long House and Garden is open daily for tours at 1:00 PM and 2:30 PM. The Preservation Society also offers a number of great historic walking tours including “Secrets of the Seaport” and the “Authentic Ghostwalk.” All walking tours start at the Fell’s Point Visitor Center, 1732 Thames Street. If you’re interested call 410-675-6750 to reserve your spot.
Baltimore’s growth came after the American Revolution. In comparison to Boston or Philadelphia, there are few buildings here in the Georgian style. A notable exception is the Captain Steele House in Fells Point, built just after the Revolution with the dormer windows and high-relief moldings characteristic of English Georgian architecture. It was lovingly restored and adapted for modern living by the Hepner family.
John Steele and his partner, Captain Thomas Lambdin, a resident of 802 S. Ann Street, operated a shipyard in Fells Point. The honorary title “Captain” was awarded to the shipbuilders, such as Lambdin and Steele, even if they did not command a ship.
The years just before and after 1800 saw Baltimore’s greatest expansion. With it came a new style of architecture – called “Regency” in Great Britain and “Federal” here. Although still using Flemish bond brickwork and gabled roofs with dormer windows, the Federal style was lighter than Georgian, with moldings less deeply inscribed and gables less steep. Shallow decorative panels adorned exterior walls, and entrances were often marked by elegantly slim columns. A leading example is the town mansion of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of the young republic’s richest men. When not residing in this house along the Jones Falls, Carroll lived at his country house, Doughoregan Manor in what is now Howard County. After Carroll’s death his house was put to a number of uses, causing increasing dilapidation until it was saved by the City of Baltimore. It is now lovingly tended by the Carroll Museums, Inc.
We are staying in Fell’s Point for the fourth entry in our Baltimore Building of the Week series with Dr. John Beihan to take a look at the eight remaining wooden houses on Aliceanna Street, South Ann Street, South Bond Street, South Register Street, and the pair below at 612-614 South Wolfe Street,
Few of Baltimore’s earliest buildings were as grand as Mt. Clare or the Captain Steele House. Most were tiny 1½-story wood clapboard houses with steep roof lines and small dormers. Apprehensive of fire, a City ordinance of 1799 decreed that all houses be constructed of brick. About a half-dozen pre-1799 wooden houses survive in Fells Point. This pair on Wolfe Street was once proposed as a museum, but currently it is endangered by inadequate maintenance and lack of a useful function.
This week’s Baltimore Building of the Week is not, in fact, a building. Instead, it is three of Baltimore’s notable “Columnar Monuments.” Both the Battle Monument and Mount Vernon’s Washington Monument have also been featured on the Monument City website. Visitors can take a tour of the Shot Tower’s ground floor exhibit, sound and light show, and informational video are available with appointment at 10:30 AM on Saturday or Sunday. The Washington Monument is open for visitors Wednesday to Friday 10 AM to 4 PM and Saturday and Sunday 10 AM to 5 PM up until Memorial Day.
Completed during the 1820s, two of these towering structures established Baltimore’s distinction as “the Monumental City.” Maximilian Godefroy’sBattle Monument, depicted on the City flag, commemorated the Defenders who died beating off the British attack in 1814. It combines Egyptian and Roman themes, including a giant set of fasces. A gigantic Roman Doric column, Robert Mills’ Washington Monument portrays the Father of Our Country, dressed in a toga, performing what its builders considered his most heroic act. (What was it? answer next week!) The contemporary Phoenix Shot Tower was a monument to Baltimore’s growing industrial sector; it manufactured lead shot for the Chesapeake Bay duck-hunting industry.