In Baltimore, one of the most prolific architects in the early 1900’s was a firm called Palmer & Lamdin, who produced several hundred of the most beautiful and unique houses in the city. Over the summer, I decided to try and find as many as I could. My friend, Walter Schamu, principal at the architecture firm SM+P, is hoping to write a book about this firm, but for right now, he’s the leading authority on these houses. He says that one of the most distinctive features is the roofline on these houses: “Look at that flare at the edge that little kick at the end of the slate. It’s an easing of the roofline before it hits the gutter.”
He continues, “There’s a lot of texture to P&L houses, the facades both project and recede, your eye dances along the rooflines. Flourishes such as dovecotes, turrets, round windows mixed with rectangular ones and the aptly named “eyebrow dormers” peek out.” Another common P&L feature is a corner entry with a copper roofed turret. “Trademark Palmer and Lamdin features also include unusual brick chimneys— known as Jacobean or diamond-stack chimneys— that appear to twist as they rise. And their houses are built with a combination of different types of masonry.”
As I drove around Dumbarton, one of the several neighbourhoods where most of these houses are located, I could easily pick out which were Palmer & Lamdin houses. I thought I’d show you a few examples, along with the distinctive features.
I am fairly sure this is a Palmer & Lamdin, but so much has been done to disguise that fact. It really ticks all of the marks: You can see the mixed masonry which has now been painted, the turret, which was probably originally copper and is now cheap roofing, the Jacobean chimney, the dovecote, the turret, the Tudor timbering, the angled front door and all of the other beautiful detailing. So sad.
I will be collecting more images of Palmer & Lamdin houses in other areas of Baltimore. Stay tuned.