Laurence Hall Fowler: Architect, Preservationist, and Scholar

Laurence Hall Fowler (Sept. 5, 1876–June 12, 1971) was born in Catonsville to Mary Brinkley Fowler and Judge David Fowler. His grandfather was Robert W. Fowler, Treasurer of Maryland from 1862 to 1870. Fowler was raised in Towson and commuted downtown to Major Wilburn B. Hall’s School for Boys, a preparatory school for The Johns Hopkins University, the Naval Academy, and West Point.

Fowler obtained an undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins in 1898 and a graduate degree in architecture from Columbia in 1902. At Columbia, in a curriculum based on the École des Beaux-Arts program in Paris, Fowler was greatly influenced by his teacher, William Robert Ware, who admired the medieval world, and McKim, Mead & White, who were completing the first stages of Columbia University in Morningside Heights at the time. Fowler’s thesis included a design of a beaux-arts courthouse with restrained classical proportions featuring the State of Maryland shield on its pediment.

After graduating from Columbia, Fowler worked briefly in New York with Bruce Price, designer of the residential community Tuxedo Park, New York, and later at Boring & Tilton, a firm rooted in beaux-arts classicism that designed many prestigious commissions, including the U.S. Immigration Station at Ellis Island.

At the urging of his father to become his own architect (and not the draughtsman of others), Fowler embarked in 1903 on a year-long trip to Italy and France to sketch buildings from antiquity and the Renaissance. He returned to Paris in 1904 and studied with the atelier Godefroy & Freynet, preparing for and passing the rigorous entrance examination into the École. However, Fowler abruptly returned to Baltimore for unknown reasons; perhaps the Great Fire of Baltimore in 1904 played a part in his decision.

In Baltimore, Fowler worked briefly for Wyatt & Nolting, a firm involved in the development of Roland Park and the rebuilding of downtown Baltimore. Fowler struck out on his own in late 1906 and ran his firm until his retirement in 1945. After leaving Wyatt & Nolting, he designed many small additions and minor alterations but was quickly able to secure more illustrious commissions with the help of former classmates at Hopkins and family connections.

Fowler’s work drew from a deep reverence for the historic, and he favored such revival styles as American Colonial, Georgian, Italianate, Jacobean, and Norman, coupled with the classical order and organization of the beaux-arts that can best be categorized as an eclectic style.

Fowler designed several important buildings, including the War Memorial on City Hall Plaza (1921), the John Work Garrett Library at Evergreen House (1922–41), and the Hall of Records in Annapolis (1934), but it is his approximately 80 residences throughout northern greater-Baltimore that demonstrate his truest examples of self-expression.

Fowler strove to harmonize the natural surroundings of his works with their interiors and exteriors to create complete works of art reflecting the wishes and personalities of his clients. He often selected furnishings for his clients’ interiors and incorporated many historic architectural elements salvaged from older buildings into his designs, including doors, fireplaces, stained glass, and wood paneling. Many of Fowler’s creations were built around mature trees or designed to open up to secret gardens of woods, brooks, and lush courtyards.

Never content to sit idle, Fowler published several articles on such historic homes as Montpelier (Prince George’s County), Montebello (Baltimore), and Hampton Mansion (Baltimore County). Many credit Fowler with saving Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s Spring House (circa 1812), now located at The Baltimore Museum of Art.

In the course of his career, Fowler amassed a collection of 448 historic architectural handbooks and treatises. During the period between the world wars, he became increasingly troubled by the large-scale destruction of historic architecture in Baltimore. The foresighted architect photographed a large selection of vernacular structures before they were demolished and created in some cases the only surviving visual records ofthe buildings. These invaluable collections (as well as Fowler’s architectural drawings) are held by The Johns Hopkins University today.

Fowler’s contributions to the area are innumerable. In addition to his work and collecting, he had a large influence on the aesthetics of Guilford and Roland Park as a member of the Architectural Review Board to the Roland Park Company (1927–1935). In addition, Fowler was a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a member of the Municipal Art Commission, director of the Society for Preservation of Maryland Antiquities, founder of Baltimore’s first atelier, adjunct of the local Beaux-Arts Society, and trustee and member of the Building Committee of The Baltimore Museum of Art.

He married Mary Josephs (1883–1980) in 1926. They had no children. Fowler died in 1971 and was interred at Loudon Park Cemetery.

Tuscany-Canterbury Portfolio

Shiff Sisters' Residence (built 1911 now destroyed) in The Brickbuilder, 1913, Vol. 22

Shiff Sisters’ Residence (built 1911 now destroyed) in The Brickbuilder, 1913, Vol. 22

Fowler’s works located in Tuscany-Canterbury shed light on the man who worked and lived here from 1911 until his death. The range of designs reflects the architect’s restrained eclectic style and confidence. One of Fowler’s first major residential jobs (1911) was located on 39th  Street between University Parkway and Canterbury Road, known as the Shiff Sisters Residence and later the Ascot House (destroyed). From 1914 to 1916, Fowler designed a series of residences on Oak Place for William Bullock Clark (destroyed), Dr. John Howland, and the Misses Fowler (sisters Alice Silvie, Amelie, and Meta), cousins of the architect.

Castalia (built 1928)

Castalia (built 1928)

In 1924, Virgil Hillyer, headmaster of Calvert School and friend of Fowler, commissioned the Calvert School and four years later his private residence Castalia (1928), an Italian villa–style home named “after the spring at the foot of Mount Parnassas [sic] in Italy that is said to have been the inspiration for the muses.”

In 1925 Fowler designed what has been described as his most personal statement—his own residence on Highfield Road. Scholar Egon Verheyen stated it best: Fowler “was responding only to himself, not to any client, no matter how close he felt to him or her. The simplicity of the outside hides the elegance of the interior. The house is turned away from the street and opened to a small wooded area with a little brook running at the bottom of the hill. From there, Fowler had in front of him a collection of his houses, three early ones built on Oak Place, and from 1928 onward, also the one designed for Virgil Hillyer.”

Highfield Road Residence (built 1925)

Highfield Road Residence (built 1925)

Sadly, numerous works by Fowler in Tuscany-Canterbury have been demolished over the years; extremely desirable land and economic opportunities have proven a powerful and destructive combination. In 2002, Eileen Higham, a team of residents, Preservation Maryland, and the Maryland Historical Trust secured Tuscany-Canterbury to the National Register of Historic Places. Most recently, in 2008, a battle was fought and won to save Fowler’s historic Castalia from demolition. A petition created by Tuscany-Canterbury residents and TCNA was supported by the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP), leading to landmark status by the City. Challenges to Fowler’s legacy via urbanization will no doubt resurface in the future, and Tuscany-Canterbury must protect the priceless treasures of the renowned architect for future generations to come. It is our responsibility, and it is what Fowler would have wanted.

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Edward Hughes Glidden: A Sketch of the Architect

Edward Hughes Glidden (1873 – 1924) architect of many well-known Baltimore apartment buildings including The Washington Apartments, The Marlborough Apartments, Tudor Hall and The Esplanade Apartments.  Also designer of the Sydenham Hospital, the Seventh Baptist Church, the Furness-Withy Building and several public schools.

Glidden was a native of Cleveland, OH and was the nephew of Francis Harrington Glidden, a founder of The Glidden Company, a manufacturer of paints and varnishes. Edward Hughes Glidden studied architecture in Cleveland and later at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

By the late 1890s Glidden came to Baltimore to work as an engineer for the contractors of the “new” courthouse designed by Wyatt & Nolting.  Glidden largely supervised the courthouse’s construction until its completion in 1899.

After completion of the courthouse, Glidden designed his first beaux-arts apartment building in Baltimore, The Mount Royal (1899) located at 101-103 Mt. Royal Avenue. Glidden went on to design several more beaux-arts apartment homes in the city including Earl Court (1903), The Washington Apartments (1905), Rochambeau Apartments (1905) and The Marlborough Apartments (1906).

In 1903 Glidden filed for bankruptcy protection after the value of stock that he borrowed against depreciated greatly. However, Glidden’s reputation as a talented architect was solidified as his beaux-arts apartment buildings were some of the most desirable residences in the city.  Famous residents of The Marlborough Apartments included art collectors, Claribel and Etta Cone.  Bessie Wallis Warfield (later known as Wallis Warfield Simpson) was a resident of Earl Court and later, Former Governor Albert Ritchie resided in The Washington Apartments.

In the years 1906-1910 Glidden and his wife traveled to Europe for Glidden to study further at the famed Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris.  Presumably Glidden also toured the surrounding continent and its architecture while overseas for such an extended period.

Upon returning to Baltimore, Glidden partnered with architect Clyde Nelson Friz from 1911-1913 and the firm was known as Glidden & Friz.  Although Glidden & Friz was a short-lived partnership, they were able in three short years to design and construct five grand iconic apartment buildings in a variety of architectural revival styles.  These buildings include: Tudor Hall, The Homewood, The Latrobe, Canterbury Hall and The Esplanade.

After his partnership with Friz dissolved, Glidden continued to work in Baltimore and completed some of his most prestigious works including Calvert Court (1915), Furness-Withy Building (1917), and Sydenham Hospital (1922-24).

The Furness Withy Building (1917) is a departure from Glidden’s favored revival and beaux-arts styles.  Commissioned by the London-based steamship company, Furness-Withy, the building (also known as Furness House) was built in the style of eighteenth century British architects Robert and James Adam.  The neo-classical building is replete with Palladian windows, ornamental swags and urns.

Sydenham Hospital, located near Lake Montebello, is comprised of several Italian Renaissance style buildings on a sprawling campus connected by walkways and courtyards harmonized by arched colonnades.  The buff brick buildings are tastefully ornamented with stone and terra cotta accents.

Throughout his life in Baltimore, Glidden lived in many of the various buildings that he designed.  His residences included The Mount Royal, The Cecil, Canterbury Hall and The Homewood Apartments where he lived from 1915 until his death in 1924.

Glidden was a member of the Baltimore Chapter of The American Institute of Architects.  He married Pauline Boucher in 1899 and had three children, one of which, Edward Hughes Glidden, Jr., was also an architect.

A Selection of Glidden’s Baltimore Buildings:

  • The Mount Royal, 1899, 101-103 E. Mt. Royal Avenue
  • The Cecil  (with Myers), 1902, 1123 N. Eutaw St.
  • Earl Court, 1903, 1301 St. Paul St.
  • The Washington Apartments, 1905, NW corner Washington and Mount Vernon Places
  • The Seventh Baptist Church, 1905, NW North Ave. & St. Paul St.
  • Rochambeau Apartments, 1905 (demolished in 2006), 1 West Franklin St.
  • Marlborough Apartments, 1906, 1701 Eutaw Place
  • The Homewood (with Clyde N. Friz), 1911, Charles & 31st Streets
  • The Latrobe Building (with Clyde N. Friz), 1911, 2 East Read St.
  • Tudor Hall (with Clyde N. Friz), 1911, 501 W. University Parkway
  • Canterbury Hall (with Clyde N. Friz), 1912, 100 West 39th St.
  • The Esplanade Apartments (with Clyde N. Friz), 1912, 2601 Madison Avenue
  • Calvert Court, 1915, 3024 N. Calvert St.
  • Furness-Withy Building, 1917, 19 South St.
  • Private Residences, 1917, Waldheim Street, Walbrook
  • School #65, 1919, Poplar Grove St.
  • Private Residence, 1920, 8 Bishops Rd.
  • Sydenham Hospital, 1922-24, Argonne Drive / Lake Montebello

Other Notable Projects:

  • Wendell Mansions, 1906, 2339 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.
  • Glidden House, 1910, Cleveland, OH
Posted in Apartment Buildings, Architecture, Baltimore, Beaux-Arts, Clyde Nelson Friz, Edward Hughes Glidden, The Esplanade, The Homewood, The Latrobe, Tudor Hall, Tuscany-Canterbury | 1 Comment

The Passano Files at MDHS

I wanted to pass on a wonderful resource that I just discovered at The Maryland Historical Society which is extremely useful for researching architecture, The Passano Files.

Created in 1935 by volunteer, Eleanor Passano, and continued by current librarian, Francis O’Neill, the files are an invaluable resource for researching Baltimore architecture.  I just spent this past Saturday pouring over the cards and discovered great information about buildings in my neighborhood.

Passano and O’Neill indexed buildings that appeared in photographs, newspaper articles and publications all in one place.  The files are organized by street address and are extremely easy to use.  To learn more about the project click here.

I hope that you enjoy this resource as much as I do.  I can’t wait to go back and dig through the Passano files some more soon.

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Canterbury Hall

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Built in 1912, Canterbury Hall is located at 100 West 39th Street and was designed by architects Clyde Nelson Friz (1867-1942) and Edward Hughes Glidden (1873-1924) operating as Glidden & Friz.

The property on which the building stands was sold by The University Parkway Company to developer, The Fireproof Apartment Company. Originally conceived as “Haddon Hall”, the building is composed of brick with stucco and timber accents in the style of “late Tudor Gothic”. Each apartment was equipped with a gas fireplace and separated from its neighbors by eighteen inch fireproof walls.
Posted in Apartment Buildings, Baltimore, Canterbury Hall, Clyde Nelson Friz, Edward Hughes Glidden, Gothic, Tudor, Tuscany-Canterbury, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hughes Company Glass Negative Collection at UMBC

Earlier this year, UMBC digitized 2,682 Hughes Company glass plate negatives which are now available for viewing online.  Depicted are many wonderful Baltimore buildings, street scenes, interiors and portraits in the collection.  To read more about the Hughes Company Glass Negative Collection and the digitization project click here.

To view The University Apartments image in the collection click here.

To view our neighbor Tudor Hall’s image in the collection click here.

I hope that you enjoy this collection as much as I do.

Posted in Apartment Buildings, Baltimore, Clyde Nelson Friz, Tudor Hall, Tuscany-Canterbury, Wyman Park | Tagged | Leave a comment

Canterbury Road Model Home

ImageCrowds wait to inspect the model for University Homes, a grouping of differently styled dwellings on Canterbury Road erected circa 1916–1922. Created by architect and developer George R. Morris, a reported 27,000 people visited the model home, which was open for “inspection” both day and night (depicted here in “flashlight view”).

Further Reading: Builders’ Journal, July 1922, p. 38; The Baltimore Rowhouse, by Mary Ellen Hayward and Charles Belfoure, p. 136.

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Gardens of Guilford

Image

Some of you may know that the beautiful Gardens of Guilford apartments were previously named The Garden Apartments.  However, did you know that initially these apartments were conceived as The Campagnia apartments?  The Campagnia apartments were designed to compliment neighboring Italian Renaissance-style buildings, The Tuscany (1918) and The Lombardy (1915), also designed by Architect Clyde N. Friz (1867-1942). Note here an early rendition of The Campagnia apartments as they appeared in The Architectural Record of 1922 (vol. 1).  While the name did not remain, many features indeed did.

Can you spot the changes between architect’s early renderings and the completed Gardens of Guilford apartments standing today?

 

Posted in Apartment Buildings, Baltimore, Clyde Nelson Friz, Tuscany-Canterbury | Leave a comment