Hans Schuler Studio and Residence
5, Lafayette Ave., E., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Hans Schuler Studio and Residence, located at 5-7 East Lafayette Avenue in downtown Baltimore, is an eclectic brick building constructed in two stages. The studio was designed by Baltimore architect Howard Sill and constructed in 1906; the residence, designed by Sill’s former apprentice Gordon Beecher, was added in 1912. The resulting composition presents an example of early 20th century eclectic architecture outstanding in Baltimore City, combining elements from various fashionable styles and incorporating as ornament the work of sculptor Hans Schuler, for whom the building was constructed. The building faces north; the studio, which occupies the western half of the lot, is one story high with a recessed skylight rising another low story; the attached house stands two stories tall plus a high, steep mansard story. The building is constructed of dark red brick, with limestone accents in the window sills and cornice on the north façade. The studio is two bays wide, with an entrance in the west bay and a three-part casement window in the east; the window is flanked by Classical draped female figures representing muses, set into recessed panels. The house is also two bays wide; the bays are defined by vertical groups of casement windows. Sculpture panels are incorporated into the window area between stories, and whimsical figures support the hood which shelters the entrance, located in the eastern bay of the façade. The north slope of the mansard is clad in slate and lighted by a broad shed dormer. On the interior, the studio is divided into two large workrooms; the house comprises an entry/stair hall, living hall, dining room, and kitchen on the first floor, with three bedrooms, a small sewing room, and bath above, and another bedroom and studio space in the attic. Interior decorative detailing is quite plain, with oak-finished five-panel doors framed by simple wide board surrounds; window trim and baseboards are similar. The building retains a high degree of integrity, having remained essentially unaltered since its construction; it has been continuously occupied by the Schuler family, and retains its original use as residence and art studio.
The Hans Schuler Studio and Residence is significant for its architecture, and for its association with Hans Schuler, one of Maryland’s most prominent sculptors throughout the first half of the 20th century. The Studio, constructed in 1906, is one of only two buildings of the period in Baltimore specifically designed as a private sculpture studio; together with the Residence, added in 1912, the building represents an outstanding example of early 20th century eclectic architecture, combining elements of several current styles and showcasing examples of Schuler’s work as decorative elements on the façade. The Studio was designed by Baltimore architect Howard Sill, who was well known in the early 20th century for his Colonial Revival residences erected in the fashionable northern suburbs of the city; the Residence was added in 1912 by Gordon Beecher, Sill’s former apprentice who had been involved with the plans for the Studio. The property derives additional significance from its association with Hans Schuler (1874-1951). Following graduation from the Rinehart School of Sculpture in 1898, Schuler was awarded scholarships for study in Paris; returning to Baltimore in 1906, he became one of the city’s most sought-after sculptors, receiving numerous commissions from private individuals, corporations, and civic groups. Schuler’s work spanned a broad range, including monumental groups, tomb figures, architectural ornament, commemorative medallions and coins; he also pursued an active career in teaching, serving as Director of the Maryland Institute of Art from 1925 until his death in 1951.