Peter E. Kurtze
811, Lanvale St., W., Baltimore, Baltimore City
Upton is a large, brick, Greek Revival mansion constructed c. 1838 on the south side of West Lanvale Street in the western part of Baltimore City. The house was built as the country residence of David Stewart (1800-1858), a prominent Baltimore attorney and politician. The entrance façade faces north, toward Lanvale Street; the south garden façade is oriented toward views of the river and harbor. The house stands 2 ½ stories high on a raised basement, three bays wide and two rooms deep, with a center-passage plan. The north entrance features double-leaf doors flanked by sidelights. A one-story portico shelters the entrance. This portico has square columns, a Classical entablature, and a shallow pediment; it is served by a flight of marble steps, and features railings of cast iron with a rose-and-thistle motif derived from the Stewart family crest. The first-floor windows have iron grilles with similar rose-and-thistle decoration. The building is capped by a Classical entablature and a parapet which obscures the low hipped roof. The upper level is lighted by dormers; a balustrade or cupola formerly surmounted the roof. A three-sided projecting bay occupies the southern portion of each of the side walls; a two-story service wing, one bay wide and one room deep, was added to the west elevation in the third quarter of the 19th century. The south façade formerly featured a two-story porch; this was replaced by a brick stair tower in the late 1950s. The new construction respected the proportions of the former porch, and utilized materials compatible with the original building. The interior remains substantially unaltered, with the majority of its original Greek Revival decorative detailing intact, including a paneled ceiling in the entrance hall, a richly detailed stair, molded plaster cornices, six- and four-panel doors, door and window architrave trim, and baseboards. Also on the property is a brick carriage house which is contemporary with the mansion.
Constructed in 1838, Upton is significant as an outstanding and unique example of a Greek Revival country house surviving within the city limits of Baltimore. Although the building has been subjected to numerous changes of use in the 20th century, including a radio station, music school, and currently as part of the city school system, it has retained substantial integrity. The majority of its highly refined interior and exterior decorative detailing remains intact, and its floor plan has been altered only slightly. The most significant alteration occurred in the late 1950s, when the original two-story south porch was removed and a brick stair tower was constructed in its place; this alteration, carried out in the process of adapting the building to public school use, was sympathetic to the form and proportions of the original porch and utilized materials and detailing which repeated original features of the building.