The Compass - January E-News from Baltimore Planning

Image of Compass Logo over Image of Bank Building
The Compass is a monthly eNewsletter of the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

January, 2013

A Message from the Director…

On behalf of myself, and my staff at the Department of Planning, I would like to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year.

 As a way to ring in the new year, I wanted to take this opportunity to share our progress on the designation of historic landmarks in 2012.

 The great history of the City of Baltimore is embodied in our historic architecture and fostering preservation of historic landmarks and districts is a key component of our mission at the Department of Planning.

I am pleased with the progress made by Planning and the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) this past year. I hope you will join me in celebrating the recognition and protection of these historic Baltimore landmarks.

Celebrating the cultural legacy of Baltimore and investing in our remarkable historic assets are key building blocks for attaining the Mayor’s goal of a growing and thriving Charm City.


Thomas J. Stosur, Director

Image of Architectural Details on Equitable Building

Baltimore Interior Landmark #2

St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – 1920 Saint Paul St. (Public Interior Landmark #2)

While several churches and residences in Baltimore have Tiffany stained-glass windows, St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is the only building with a Tiffany interior.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was one of America’s most famous interior designers and artists of the late 19th - early 20th century. Today, he is best known for his stained-glass.

Built in 1898, St. Mark’s is one of only a few intact Tiffany-designed interiors left in the world. The Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company designed and produced the ornately decorated walls, mosaics, stained-glass windows, and lamps in the church.

Image of St. Marks Evangelical Church Interior

Open House Coming Soon:

In February 2013, CHAP will be partnering with St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church to host an open house at the church to celebrate the rich heritage of Baltimore’s religious architecture. This event will allow visitors to enjoy tours of St. Mark’s, as well as encourage other religious institutions to consider landmark designation.

2012: A Landmark Year for Historic Preservation

The Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) and the Planning Department is pleased to announce designation of eleven new Baltimore City Landmarks in 2012, This brings the Landmark list to a total of 172 exterior designations, and two public interior designations. A majority of the new landmarks are in downtown Baltimore, and represent a broad range of Baltimore history and architectural styles.

Baltimore’s landmarks help to define the physical identity and character of the city, and contribute greatly to the city’s vitality. The designation of these properties as landmarks protects them for future generations, honors the stewards of these significant places, and affords owners the opportunity to access local tax credits.

Image of Turnbull Building Facade

CHAP staff works collaboratively with members of the City Council, community leaders, citizens, and organizations in the process of designating historic landmarks.

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore has been a strong partner and leader in the designation of significant buildings in Baltimore’s central business district.  In the past few years, downtown Baltimore has blossomed into the fastest-growing residential market in the city.

Image of Details Atop Dunbar High School

The majority of these new housing units are located in early-20th century offices and warehouse buildings. The adaptive reuse of these historic buildings brings renewed life to the structures, and tenants have an appreciation for these unique spaces with their finely-crafted original details and rich histories. The Downtown Partnership strongly promotes the reuse and protection of these buildings, and CHAP will continue to work closely with them to designate more landmarks in 2013.

The designation of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church as the second Public Interior landmark has garnered some well-deserved interest in the church interior, with a front page article in the Baltimore Sun in November.  Louis Comfort Tiffany was one of America’s most famous interior designers and artists of the late 19th - early 20th century, though today he is best known for his stained-glass. The interior of St. Mark’s was designed by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, and it is one of the few intact Tiffany-designed interiors left in the world.

If you’d like to learn more about Baltimore’s historic landmarks, you can view or download a copy of CHAP’s updated Designated Landmarks List.  In 2013, CHAP staff will continue to work with our partners to designate more of Baltimore’s significant historic places to the Baltimore City Landmark List. For more information on landmark designation, or to request a designation, contact Lauren Schiszik at or 410-396-5796. 

New Landmarks of 2012:

Image of Dunbar High School

Old Dunbar High School – 540 N. Caroline St. (Landmark #163)

Dunbar Junior-Senior High School PS 133 opened in 1932 as a junior high school in this Art Deco school building, expanding to include high school in 1940. Dunbar was the only high school for African Americans in East Baltimore until desegregation in 1954. Dunbar has a legacy of providing equitable, high-quality education and played an important role in the community of East Baltimore for the majority of the 20th century.

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Shelley House – 3849 Roland Ave. (Landmark #164)

Located in Hampden, the Shelley House is the oldest documented concrete house in Baltimore City, built in 1905-1906. Designed by Baltimore architect John E. Lafferty for local physician Dr. Albert Shelley, this Colonial Revival home is an early example of reinforced concrete used in domestic architecture, predating many other concrete homes locally and nationally. Concrete was an early 20th century “miracle” building material that was versatile and fireproof, and gained popularity as an architectural material throughout the 20th century.

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Abell Building – 329-335 W. Baltimore St. (Landmark #165)

The Abell Building is an ornately decorated late-19th century double warehouse. It was constructed in 1880 for A.S. Abell, owner of the Baltimore Sun, and served as one of his investment properties. Designed by prominent Baltimore architect George A. Frederick, this structure is one of the finest Victorian warehouses in Baltimore, and is considered to be Frederick’s best industrial design. It features cast-iron on the first floor and brick with polychromatic stone details on the upper stories. The ironwork was cast by Bartlett, Hayward & Co. The building survived the Great Fire of 1904, and housed a variety of businesses and manufacturing firms.

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Appold-Faust Building – 307-309 W. Baltimore St. (Landmark #166)

The Appold-Faust Building is a late-19th century iron-front factory and warehouse, and is one of the finest examples of cast-iron architecture in the City. It is the only known existing building in the City that has two cast-iron façades. Cast-iron architecture was once ubiquitous in the business district. The building was constructed in 1870 by prominent builder Benjamin F. Bennett, and the ironwork likely cast by the foundry of Bartlett, Robbins, and Co. for George J. Appold, a prominent Baltimore businessman. The rear of the building was constructed in 1875 for John Faust, a pioneer in machinated shoe manufacturing. The building housed a variety of businesses and manufacturing firms, representative of how the garment district grew and changed throughout its history

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Baltimore Equitable Society Building – 21 N. Eutaw St. (Landmark # 167)

The Baltimore Equitable Society Building was constructed in 1857 for the Eutaw Savings Bank of Baltimore. The architect was Joseph F. Kemp and the builders were Gardner & Matthews. The building is Italian Renaissance Revival, a style that once was common in the city, but has mostly disappeared due to the Great Fire of 1904, urban renewal, and redevelopment. In 1889, the Baltimore Equitable Society moved into this building, where it remained until 2003. As the city’s first fire insurance company and the state’s first corporation, Baltimore Equitable Society has insured city residents against fire since 1794.

Image of Equitable Building

Equitable Building – 10-12 N. Calvert St. (Landmark # 168)

The Equitable Building is significant as the first skyscraper in Baltimore. It was the largest and most highly decorated office building in Baltimore when it was constructed in 1891-1893, and is the oldest existing building on Courthouse Square. This commercial building was designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style by prominent Baltimore architects Charles L. Carson and Joseph Evans Sperry, and features elements of Sullivanesque architecture. The Equitable Building was the first building in Baltimore to be constructed with a “cage” of cast-iron girders and columns supporting the steel floor beams independent from the exterior framing of the building. The building was fireproof, and survived the Baltimore Fire of 1904, though the interior was destroyed. It was one of several fireproof office buildings that helped stop the fire from spreading further north. Throughout its existence, the Equitable Building has housed offices of businesses, banks, insurance, and law.

Image of Old Towne Bank

Old Town National Bank Building – 221 N. Gay St. (Landmark #169)

The Old Town National Bank is an excellent example of an early 20th century commercial structure in Baltimore. Designed in the Beaux Arts style by Frederic A. Fletcher, the building served one of the oldest banking houses in the city. The bank’s history is intrinsically tied to the Old Town neighborhood, and was the finest and largest building when it was constructed in Old Town in 1925.

Image of St. Alphonsus Church

St. Alphonsus Hall – 125 W. Saratoga St. (Landmark #170)

Constructed in 1873, St. Alphonsus Hall is a fine example of a Gothic Revival institutional structure. It is architecturally evocative of St. Alphonsus Church, located across the street. St. Alphonsus Hall was an important site for Baltimore’s German and Lithuanian communities throughout its history, serving as a school, parish hall and convent for St. Alphonsus Church. Early immigrant communities maintained very close-knit religious ties, attending separate churches and schools. St. Alphonsus Hall allowed the Germans and Lithuanians to retain their religious and ethnic ties while also helping them assimilate into society at large. Even after the school ceased to serve specific ethnic communities, it was valued by many Baltimoreans of various religious and cultural backgrounds for its quality education.

Image of Terminal Warehouse Building

Terminal Warehouse Building – 320 Guilford Ave. (Landmark #171)

The Terminal Warehouse was built by an important local company in the late 19th century as a warehouse for flour and other dry goods, and served the Northern Central Railway Line. It is representative of Baltimore’s industrial development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The building continues to provide warehousing, trucking and distribution services in the mid-Atlantic region. The Terminal Warehouse is an excellent example of industrial/warehouse design by a noted local architect, Benjamin B. Owens, retaining many interior and exterior design elements including the prominent roof-top water tower and wood beam construction.

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Turnbull Building – 311-313 W. Baltimore St. (Landmark #172)

The Turnbull Building is an early 20th century factory and warehouse constructed two years after the Baltimore Fire. The building was designed by Bayard Turnbull, Baltimore architect, for his father, Lawrence Turnbull, as an investment property. Lawrence Turnbull was a significant figure in literary circles both in Baltimore and nationally. The building housed a variety of manufacturing firms during the 20th century.