August 11, 2014

Hunting Houses

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.” IMG_2152

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.

Corner entry, turret, round windowIMG_2126

Flared roofline, mixed masonryIMG_2128

Turret, dovecote, Jacobean chimney and detailing.IMG_2157

Here’s a closer view. IMG_2159

You can just barely see the eyebrow windows.IMG_2161

Jacobean mixed brickwork, Tudor detailing, mixed masonry.IMG_2163

Flared roofline, just right of the front door.IMG_2155

Window and architectural detailIMG_2138

Varied roofline, detailed windowIMG_2142

Varied roofline, flared root, eyebrow dormer.IMG_2144

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, IMG_2146the Jacobean chimney, the dovecote, the turret, the Tudor timbering, the angled front door and all of the other beautiful detailing. So sad.IMG_2148

Flared roof, mixed masonry, IMG_2173and architectural detailing.IMG_2175

This house is currently for sale. Here are some interior images. Oh, no images of the kitchen, which is the kiss of death!imageimageimageimage

There was another house in the neighbourhood which I liked, although it’s probably not a P&L house. IMG_2134

I took the liberty of photoshopping it to a better colour… a more subdued grey.IMG_2134x

I will be collecting more images of Palmer & Lamdin houses in other areas of Baltimore. Stay tuned.

21 comments:

  1. FASCINATING. i wonder how right you were? the white house is just sad. and what did you mean about the kitchen picture?
    regardless - what a wonder lesson, and what fabulous houses!!!

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    1. I think that when real estate listings don't show kitchens or bathrooms, then there's a problem with them.

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  2. Is there a tree ordinance or are residences keen on keeping trees trimmed and no overhanging branches thus no leaves on the roof and clogged gutters. There ought to be more sense where I live. Granetd tree produce shade but what a headache leaves on the roof an clogged gutters.

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    1. Nope. No tree ordinances, other than no overgrown vegetation.

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  3. The front hall paneling and recessed radiators in the house above are identical to those in my much more modest P&L house. You know where I live if you want to take photos.

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    1. I am not sure if I knew your house was a P&L. But it doesn't surprise me!

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  4. Changing of the color with bottom house made me laugh. We can't know which is right without knowing the owner & their interior.

    But those windows each side of the front door? I would turn them into custom narrow French doors pronto. Changes entire concept of exterior & the Landscape Design ! And use of those rooms and front garden.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

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    1. I just thought the blue was too bright! And because I can photoshop new colours, I do it! Good idea about the French doors.

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  5. Truly gorgeous architecture Meg, There are many homes of a similar style here in the historic Kansas City area and I love driving up and down these streets!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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    1. It's such fun to stalk houses, isn't it!

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  6. Ah, Guilford, how I love thee.

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    1. HA! Not Guilford! It's a section of Pikesville called Dumbarton. It's between Slade Avenue, 7 Mile Lane and Park Heights. It was the Jewish Guilford in the early 1900's.

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  7. I agree with Joni Webb this time. White is not always a Never-Fail color for a house, and that is proven here. Sometimes the real success of the architecture depends on the mix of materials, including the roof, rather than a unifying all-over paint. If the house was built before 1935 or so, think twice before painting the masonry.

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    1. This house would have looked very noble in the original stone and masonry. i photoshopped it a little and stuck it on my FB page. Take a look. I also made the red roof a nice slate brown colour!

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  8. I love these homes. Reminds me of my childhood. Thanks. Mary

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  9. What beautiful homes you have in Baltimore. The last house leaves me a bit speechless. For some reason I believe the entry was a recent add on. Is that possible? It looks way too gimmicky for a well trained architect to have done this. The house is going a little Tyrolean.

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    1. I don't mind the doors, but i dislike the colour!

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  10. Interesting. Really reminds me of Princeton University's buildings!

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  11. Those are breathtaking houses, Meg! I’m pretty sure you had a great time hopping from one house to another, taking photos along the way. Must've been a great experience having an up-close and personal look into these fantastic houses. Keep exploring architecture - you're allowing others to also see the beauty of simple, everyday architecture. Have a great day! :)

    Amos Daniel

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  12. Really interesting. Have you checked out Bancroft Park - not far from Dumbarton? http://archive.baltimorecity.gov/Government/BoardsandCommissions/HistoricalArchitecturalPreservation/HistoricDistricts/MapsofHistoricDistricts/BancroftPark.aspx

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