David S. Shull A.I.A.
Old Catonsville High School
20, Winters Lane, Catonsville, Baltimore County
Located at the northeast corner of Winter's Lane and Melrose Avenue, only a short distance from Frederick Road (MD 144), the Old Catonsville High School remains intact within the scale and context of a quiet neighborhood. The masonry schoolhouse prominently occupies its site among mature hardwood trees and comprised of a one-story, single bay structure (1878) and a three-story, four bay addition (1898). The buildings are immediately recognizable to be a school by virtue of the ample provisions for light and ventilation featured at each elevation and by the location of the entrances which are centered at each of the four elevations except the north, which occurs at the interface of the one- and three-story building portions. In appearance, the buildings are unified by the use of matching materials and detailing of stone foundation walls, brick masonry walls, and shingled gable ends. On the interior, the various rooms and their configurations remain intact with original interior finish materials, where exposed, in very good condition. Some floor, wall, and ceiling surfaces have been concealed by relatively recent coverings such as carpet, tile, and paneling, and over time there have been modernizations made to plumbing, electrical, and heating systems.
The Old Catonsville High School is important for association with the development of Catonsville, a suburb of Baltimore. Built in 1878 and enlarged in 1898, this brick structure was erected to accommodate the educational needs of an expanding community. In the last half of the 19th century the Catonsville area (Baltimore County has no incorporated towns) grew rapidly, particularly with the start of the Baltimore and Catonsville Passenger Railway in 1862. The area population nearly doubled in this period. The county school commission responded to this growth first by building the 1878 section on to an earlier frame structure and then replacing the frame building with a brick building in 1898. The Old Catonsville High School represents the beginning and intermediate stage of advanced education in Catonsville at the turn of the 20th century. In 1885 the school was designated a high school. By 1910, however, the faculty was too small to meet the demand and a new school was erected. In 1910 the property was sold to the Catholic Church.