George E. Thomas
1123, Eutaw St., N., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Cecil Apartments stands at 1123 North Eutaw Street, one of the principal residential streets of the city. The Cecil marked the evolution of elite living that had come to characterize the Bolton Hill neighborhood. The 7-story building takes the form of a T in plan, framing side yards that guaranteed views from its apartments toward Eutaw Street while the central wing faces the street and contains the principal entrance. The building is constructed of multiple shades of light colored brick, accented with limestone and cast terra cotta ornament. This coloration complements the general classicism of the façade and marks the shift toward the lighter tones of turn-of-the-century, Beaux Arts design. Within, its spacious halls and generously scaled architectural details denote the rise of the apartment house as a new form of elite residence in Baltimore at the turn of the 20th century. Despite changes during the last generation, when the building was converted to offices, it retains sufficient integrity to convey its role in the evolution of high-rise modern living in Baltimore at the turn of the 20th century.
The Cecil Apartment House is one of the first important apartment buildings in Baltimore. Built in the newly fashionable Beaux Arts style at the edge of Baltimore’s most elite downtown neighborhood, it offered an important alternative to the suburban houses of Roland Park. Dating from the very beginning of the 20th century, the Cecil provided house-sized units with all of the amenities of fashionable residences while adding new features that linked it to elite in-town housing in other cities, including a centralized kitchen that made it possible to reduce household staff. These ideas helped introduce the idea of apartment living in the city. As the first apartment building to be built in the elite neighborhood of Bolton Hill, the Cecil began the transformation from single-house residences. In its early years, the building housed many of Baltimore’s elite, including the architect himself. It was designed by a well known Baltimore architect, Edward Hughes Glidden, who was responsible for a group of important later Baltimore apartment houses, including the Marlborough further to the north on Eutaw Place and the Esplanade on Druid Hill. In addition, Glidden designed offices and commercial structures including Furness House, the offices for the Furness-Withey Steamship lines in downtown Baltimore. The Cecil Apartments is historically significant as an influential work of a significant Baltimore architect and as an early and influential example of Baltimore apartment living.