Oakenshawe Historic District
Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Oakenshawe Historic District is a residential neighborhood in north central Baltimore, comprising 334 buildings which reflect its development during the period 1890-c. 1926. The neighborhood evolved in two stages on the 19th century Wilson estate, a forested tract whose terrain was gently rolling in the north and generally flat in the southern and eastern sections. After the Wilsons sold off a portion of the estate, a number of frame houses reflecting vernacular interpretations of the Victorian Gothic and Italianate styles were gradually built on the property; this first phase of growth is represented by houses dating from 1890 to c. 1910. The second stage of development began in the World War I era, when several developers transformed the property by constructing a neighborhood of brick rowhouses. The district is primarily characterized by these rowhouses, which were of the "daylight" type, constructed in the 1910s and 1920s. Their floor plan, innovative at the time of their construction, admitted natural light throughout the interior. Exterior treatment reflect the influence of the Colonial and Neoclassical revivals, with brick facades, multipane sash windows, and related traditional detailing. Five professional architects are known to have worked in Oakenshawe. The majority of the architect-designed houses are attributed to Benjamin Flournoy and Parke P. Flournoy. Frederick E. Beall and Stanislaus Russell, whose work is widely represented in a number of Baltimore neighborhoods, also worked in Oakenshawe. In 1923 several Colonial Revival rowhouses were designed by William B. Gerwig, and Matthew G. Mueller designed a number of Neoclassical Revival rowhouses at the same time. The development was substantially complete by c. 1926, and remains highly cohesive and retains a high degree of integrity.
The Oakenshawe Historic District is significant for its association with the urban development of Baltimore beginning at the turn of the 20th century, and as an example of a type of residential subdivision which characterized the area in the period. Oakenshawe is distinctive among the early-20th century subdivisions in north Baltimore for its consistent architectural character. While a significant number of buildings survive to reflect the area's history through the first decade of the 20th century, the majority of houses in Oakenshawe reflect its development as a rowhouse neighborhood which began around World War I. These are attached houses of the "daylight" type, featuring an early-20th century plan innovation that allowed natural light throughout the building. Although the neighborhood is the creation of several unrelated developers, it exhibits a noteworthy consistency in building type, architectural style (predominantly Colonial or Neoclassical Revival styles), and in the quality of design and construction (reflecting the work of several capable local architects and builders).