Barre Circle Historic District
Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Barre Circle Historic District is an urban district comprising approximately 200 structures, located in the western section of Baltimore City. The district is characterized by highly unified and consistent blocks of brick rowhouses, most of which were constructed between c. 1850 and the Civil War, with some blocks and groups representing later dates into the early 20th century. These buildings are generally two bays wide, uniformly narrow (12-14 feet), and from two to three stories in height, with low-pitched gable or shed roofs and small back buildings. They are notably unpretentious and devoid of all but the most minimal ornament; projecting brick courses sometimes form cornices or belts, segmental-arched openings and simple bracketed cornices of wood or tin occasionally appear, but the overall impression evoked by these buildings is one of remarkable austerity, consistent with their origins as quickly constructed housing for the burgeoning masses of blue-collar workers attracted by the booming industrial development of the adjacent areas which began in the mid 19th century.
The Barre Circle Historic District is significant for its architecture and for its association with the industrial development of Baltimore City. Its cohesive streetscapes of modest, unadorned brick rowhouses reflect the architectural response to Baltimore’s rapid industrial expansion in the mid 19th century, and typify urban worker’s housing of the period. In the context of Baltimore’s mid-19th century neighborhoods, Barre Circle is unusual in the consistently unpretentious character of its architecture, which reflects the historic social homogeneity of the area; whereas other rowhouse neighborhoods housed a mixture of white-and blue-collar workers, the managerial class---and their more elaborate dwellings---were, and are, conspicuously absent from Barre Circle.