MHT File Photo
Rowhouses at 303-327 East North Avenue
303-327, North Ave., E., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The row houses at 303-317 and 319-327 East North Avenue consists of two groups of brick Victorian row houses that rest on high masonry foundations and are four stories high which includes a mansard roof along the street or north elevation. The 303-317 group is divided into eight units and has incised stone decorative detailing surrounding the doors and over the windows and a pressed metal cornice with swag decoration. The façade is divided symmetrically with a projecting center bay. The end unit which stood at 301 was demolished in 1981 because of extensive fire damage. The 319-327 group has five units and an elaborately decorated façade with central pavilion, wall dormers, mini towers, highly decorative brickwork, and belt courses. Several of the entrance steps retain ornate iron balustrades. On the interiors, the houses have elaborate period woodwork (surrounds, doors, balustrades), multiple staircases, and skylights. Behind 313 stands a two-story brick structure with a tall smoke stack that was the central heating system (dating probably soon after construction of the houses) for 303-317. These houses have a high level of integrity of original design, materials, workmanship, and location that give a strong late 19th century sense of time and place. Several garage-type structures which do not contribute to the significance of the resource stand along the south end of the lots.
The significance of the row houses at 303-317 and 319-327 East North Avenue is derived from their architectural merit and their association with the development of Baltimore in the late 19th century. Built on a large scale, these two groups of row houses are some of the most elaborately decorated rows that were constructed in Baltimore in the late 19th century outside of Mount Vernon, a neighborhood several blocks to the south that is characterized by ornate grand-scale row houses. The East North Avenue buildings are particularly noteworthy architecturally for the exterior decorative detailing (generally stone on 303-317 and generally brick on 319-327), interior woodwork and plan (303-317 contain four-story skylights that light first floor reception rooms), and the unique central heating system for 303-317. Historically, these houses which are an anomaly today for North Avenue, represent an early attempt at planning the future of the street. The row houses at 303-317 and 319-327 are the first row houses developed on the street which through the mid 19th century was the northern boundary of the city and not developed on any major scale until 1874 when it was widened to the scale of a grand boulevard. Development of the buildings along the street, however, never took on the grand scale the width of the street and these rows set.