March 26, 2015

Jury Duty

In Baltimore City, the rule is you either serve on jury duty for one day, or for one trial. So, that’s what I spent Thursday doing – waiting to be called for a jury. Luckily, my number never came up, so I was excused at the end of the day.

However, being downtown for an entire day, without racing to get to a meeting, or back to work, gave me an opportunity to spend some time walking around and looking at buildings. At the end of April, I am giving a lecture titled “An Amateur’s Guide to Architecture in Baltimore”, and so I am assembling the buildings that will be used for the slide show. (Click the image for more information)image

When I arrived at the courthouse, the statue of Lord Calvert, the founder of Maryland, was decorated for Maryland Day, just two days ago. Jury Duty Day (2)Jury Duty Day (12)

When I entered the courthouse, I remembered how beautiful it was, with gorgeous tesserae marble floors, Jury Duty Day (3) elaborate wood carvings, Jury Duty Day (13)

and decorative metal work, Jury Duty Day (14)but with thousands of people in and out every week, it’s a little run down, and accommodations have been made for modern conveniences. Jury Duty Day (4)

As one of my modernist architect friends said, “yeah, why did they have to 'fancy up' the simple, honest expression of ductwork by putting a cornice on top of it? Postmodernism taken too far…”

As I walked around during lunch, I realized that this is the section of Baltimore that was completely destroyed by a fire in 1904, and so all of the buildings that I was looking at were constructed after that point. image

The architecture is sort of blousey and beaux arts, which fits because the golden age of beaux arts architecture in the United States was between 1880 and 1920. Lots of allegorical figures and decorative carving everywhere, deep cornices, lots of swagging and festooning…Jury Duty Day (15)Jury Duty Day (16)Jury Duty Day (7)Jury Duty Day (29)

On Monday, I will be on another type of jury. The Morgan University School of Architecture and Planning is having a competition for the students to design interiors of a rowhouse, of which we have thousands here in Baltimore. I am looking forward to see what they do!


  1. What a wonderful tour! a treasure trove of architectural marvels!

    We have a few in Southern California!!

    You have MANY!!!!

  2. Meg, Thank you for this wonderful post. I had jury duty a few months ago and it's very nice to hear your description of the history of that part of the city and the architecture. There is a lovely Starbucks a block away that has giant photos of Baltimore mounted in it; that was my find for the day.

    1. I found the delicious Cafe Poupon on Charles Street! YUM!

  3. congratulations on “An Amateur’s Guide to Architecture in Baltimore” + couldn't have asked a more qualified person + love the photos.

  4. Meg I so wish I could be there to join in. This kind of tour is right up my alley!

    The Arts by Karena


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