James B. Baker House
452, West Bel Air Avenue (MD 132), Aberdeen, Harford County
The James B. Baker House is a large three story frame residence constructed in 1896 in the Queen Anne style. It is irregular in plan and form, with multiple gables, projections, dormers, and balconies enlivening its essentially square form and high hipped roof. The ground story is sheathed with clapboards, with applied vertical boards at corners and openings; the upper stories are clad in fishscale shingles. A one-story porch wraps around part of the north and east façades; second and third story porches appear on the north and south. A truncated turret adorns the northeast corner, and a three-sided bay window rises the full height of the east façade. Double-hung windows have a large pane surrounded by eight small lights in the upper sash, in the style of a "Queen Anne window". The interior retains virtually all its ornament unaltered and in good condition, including oak baseboards, cornices, architraves, and chair rail, paneled doors and staircase, elaborate fireplace surrounds and overmantels. Ornate windows of leaded and colored glass light the stair landings. Two outbuildings remain on the property, including a 2-story stable/carriage house with two large ventilators on the ridge of its gable roof, and a 1 1/2-story outbuilding of unknown function. Both are of frame with board and batten siding.
The significance of the James B. Baker House in Aberdeen derives from two different sources. First, as the residence of James B. Baker, a leading entrepreneur in the canning industry and a son of Harford County's pioneer canner, the house is associated with the life of a person who figured prominently in an industry that was a major factor in the economic development of Harford County in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Secondly, the James B. Baker house is significant for its architecture: as a provincial example of the Queen Anne style which was commonly associated in the late 19th century with high-status, urban properties, it expresses the prosperity which the canning industry brought to the Baker family and to the community of Aberdeen. The house embodies the distinctive characteristics of the Queen Anne style in its irregular massing, complex roof form, variety of siding textures, stained and leaded glass, and interior ornament. It is in good condition and remains essentially unaltered, and as such is probably the best surviving example of a large Queen Anne residence in Harford County.