MHT File Photo
Clifton Park Valve House
2803, Saint Lo Drive, Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Clifton Park Valve House, or Gate House, is a massive octagonal stone structure. Large Romanesque archways alternate with Gothic style windows which once contained stained glass. Remnants of the colorful glass patterns may still be seen in the turret, atop an intricate tile roof supported by a complicated system of iron trusses. The interior contains the wheels by which the water gates were opened and closed. There is also a marble tablet inside which commemorates the completion of the Lake Clifton project in 1888. The Valve House stands at the juncture of two tree-lined drives, constructed at the same time, to afford the Victorians a fine carriage ride around the lake and a vantage point from which to view the entire eastern section of the city.
During the latter years of the 19th century the Baltimore City Water Department underwent a vigorous expansion program. Money was appropriated to dam the Gunpowder River, and water was channeled through a tunnel to the northeastern section of the city. A second reservoir was located at the present Clifton Park. Although the reservoir has been filled in and is not used, the old Valve House still stands. A thorough search of the City records failed to reveal the name of an architect for the building, though the engineers for the project were Edward Heffner, Jr., Samuel W. Knapman, and Charles A. Hook. In all probability, the style of the structure was copied from a similar building or a sketchbook of architectural studies, as was usual in those days. The exceptional quality of this building results not only from its unique design and sturdy construction, but more from the fact that it is one of the few remaining relics of an era when men of imagination ventured to create a temple to fill a mundane need.