About the Neighborhood

National Historic District

Tuscany-Canterbury

National Register of Historic Places, 2002

The Tuscany-Canterbury Neighborhood was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. It is an excellent example of a valuable array of preserved historic resources from the early 20th century and reflects the transformation from rural to suburban, and now urban, environment. Evidence of this pattern of transformation which occurred in many major cities along the eastern seaboard is especially well preserved in Tuscany-Canterbury. A circa 1892 Victorian cottage survives to reflect the area’s rural origins.

Other resources reflective of suburban trends began to be added in stages from as early as 1911, including row houses, detached houses, and apartment buildings. The district derives additional significance under Criterion C for the high quality of its architecture, the work of many of Baltimore’s most prominent and accomplished designers of the period. The period of significance extends from 1892, the date of the earliest resource in the district, to 1940, by which date the development of the district was substantially complete.

Architects of Tuscany Canterbury Properties

Laurence Hall Fowler

Laurence Hall Fowler

1876-1971

Laurence Hall Fowler was born September 5, 1876 at “Walnut Hill” in Catonsville, MD, to David Fowler and Mary Brinkley. Not unlike their contemporaries, the Fowlers made their home in multiple locations. Their city dwellings were primarily apartments and residential hotels, though they left the city in the summers to spend time in Catonsville or at their so-called “American Colony” in Cobourg, Canada or North Hatley, Canada. They changed residences every couple of years, providing Laurence with a variety of domiciles by an early age.

Young Fowler was educated much in the same way as peers of his class.  He attended Colonel Marsten’s School prior to attending Major Hall’s School for Boys in preparation for entrance into the Johns Hopkins University. Fowler graduated from Hopkins in 1898 with a Bachelor’s degree in general studies with a focus on mathematics. From Baltimore, he went to on to attend Columbia University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in the Course of Architecture in 1902.

Fowler’s time in New York included stints in the firms of Bruce Price, and Boring and Tilton.  Price, better known for his work at Tuxedo Park, New York, and the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec, also completed, in 1900, a commission for the Washington County Public Library in Hagerstown, Maryland, the state of his birth and early training. It was in this use of classical elements that Price’s work is most similar to Fowler’s own as the latter’s career matured. Fowler never adopted, or even adapted, the more frequently quoted language of Price, the Shingle Style.

Nor did Fowler embrace the French Renaissance design elements of Boring and Tilton’s award-winning 1897 United States Immigration Station at Ellis Island. Though Fowler, like William Boring and Edward Tilton before him, would continue his education through the Ecole de Beaux Arts, his design vocabulary would more often reference the Renaissance revival vernacular as displayed in Boring and Tilton’s 1900-1905 Memorial Hall at the Jacob Tome Institute in Port Deposit, MD.

By 1903, Price had died, the firm of Boring and Tilton was on the verge of dissolution, and Fowler had failed to win a Columbia Traveling Prize.  With financial support from his parents, he sailed for Genoa in October 1903, touring Italy into the early spring of 1904. Traveling through Italy, Fowler was gifted with a 1565 edition of Alberti’s L’Architettura by fellow traveler, James G. Averell (a Harvard graduate in architecture and apprentice to Claude F. Bragden). This volume represents the beginning of what would become a carefully collected and ultimately world-renowned library of early architectural treatises.

Fowler continued on to Paris and the atelier of Godefroy and Freynet, where he prepared for the entrance exams into the Ecole des Beaux Art. Though Fowler won entrance, he did not move forward to the Ecole proper, but instead chose to return home to Baltimore late in 1904. Taking a position with Wyatt and Nolting, Fowler was introduced to the Roland Park Company. By 1906, however, he had established his own practice, and in 1907 set up an office at 347 N. Charles Street, where he would remain until retiring from active design work in 1945.

Upon his retirement, Fowler left to the Johns Hopkins University his library of over 450 architectural treatises dating before 1801, as well as a reference library of 300 titles published within his lifetime.  From Alberti, Vitruvius and Palladio to Pugin, Hamlin, and periodicals such as Pencil Points and Brickbuilder, these publications served as Fowler’s source material.

Fowler’s residential work has been called “eclectic,” citing the fact that he did not produce just one style of dwelling and that his designs did not “evolve” over time. Be that as it may, Fowler’s designs were suited to the settings in which they were placed, both in style and in material. In Sudbrook, located in northern Baltimore County, he designed a clapboard cottage for Miss Emma Middleton resulting in a domicile not incongruous to the surrounding Shingle style houses. At Oak Place, however, he employed three distinct styles in keeping with the growing neighborhoods of Tuscany-Canterbury, Roland Park, and Guilford: a sizeable Colonial revival dwelling for the Misses Fowler, a Mediterranean villa for William Bullock Clark, and a stucco-clad, almost plantation style home for John Howland. All three are within sight of one another and, while complimentary, are not the same.

Though Fowler employed at least one draftsman in his office from 1916, it wasn’t until 1922 that the office staff increased. It was during this year that Fowler won the competition to design Baltimore’s War Memorial. It was also the start of what would be a years’ long affiliation with John Work Garrett and Alice Garrett at Evergreen. On top of this, he had undertaken commission to design the elementary school building at the Calvert School.  He needed a larger workforce. For the next 15 years, Fowler employed a number of additional architects, from students spending their summer learning the trade to more seasoned veterans, as draftsmen and designers to manage the workload.

It was during this time that Fowler had, among his other work, a handful of commissions from the Roland Park Company and served on their architectural advisory committee. Some of the men who worked for Fowler would become regular architects for the RPC as well:  Addison F.  Worthington, Faion E. Lott—even William D. Lamdin, later of RPC favorites Palmer and Lamdin, worked a year in Fowler’s employ.

The War Memorial was by far the largest, and probably most administratively complicated, commission that Fowler would undertake. Delayed by funding issues, and frequently debated not only within the halls of city government, but in the press as well, the War Memorial brought Fowler onto a larger stage. It has been suggested that Fowler may have looked back to his travels in Italy, to time spent conducting measured drawings at the Tempio Malatestiano, for inspiration for the design the building. Between the Memorial building itself and the plaza stretching between it and City Hall, the commission spanned almost the entire decade of the 1920s, occupying a good portion of Fowler’s time and attention.

Fowler married Mary Colt Josephs in 1926, though they probably knew each other many years before. At the same time as their marriage, Fowler finally built a house for himself and his bride at 10 West Highfield Road.  If any of the Fowler designs can be named “eclectic” it is this one—the most Arts and Crafts of any of Fowler’s commissions.

Fowler ran an active though not large practice, and his commissions into the late 1920s and early 1930s included not only new construction, but also returns to “old haunts.” Additions and alterations to Evergreen continued, as did renovations to the David G. McIntosh house at Dumbarton Farms, the Greenwood School (originally designed as a home for John Deford), St. Timothy’s and Calvert Schools, and the Safe Deposit and Trust Company. In 1938, Fowler created a gem of a little house for Abel Wolman at 3213 North Charles Street. Despite the compactness of the site, the house exemplifies a balanced use of decorative details within the confines of a small space creating an overall feel of simple elegance.  It was also during this time period that Fowler secured a second large civic commission in creating the Hall of Records in Annapolis.

By the 1940s, wartime economy and the side-effects of age were taking their toll.  In 1940, Fowler renewed an association with Baltimore architect Henry P. Hopkins, once a fellow tenant at 347 North Charles Street, to design a State Office Building in Annapolis. Besides sharing office space, Fowler and Hopkins had worked together on commissions early in their careers (the Black House on Warrenton Road for Fowler, the Circle Theater in Annapolis for Hopkins).

Fowler’s office staff shrunk to one or two draftsmen. Paul Pippin, another Marylander, worked for Fowler in 1937-38 and during the summer of 1940. Pippin had just graduated from Columbia and would go on to study in the ateliers of Mies van der Rohe and Eliel Saarinen, passing through Fowler’s office on the way.  It is interesting to note that Fowler’s only nod to Modernism came during this period in the form of two neighboring houses on Rolandvue Avenue.

Although Fowler closed his office in 1945, he continued his work with the architectural life of Baltimore through serving on the Building Committee at the Johns Hopkins University, and through the Maryland Historical Society, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Baltimore chapter of AIA. He was one of the city’s early voices for historic preservation: not only did he document the demolition of significant structures in the post-fire era rebuilding, but he salvaged elements from condemned buildings (mantels, doorways, and moldings in particular) to be reused in new construction or renovations.

Fowler lived into the era in which Modernism gradually replaced the Beaux Arts sensibilities that formed the underlying basis of his own designs. He died In Baltimore on June 12, 1971, after several years of failing health. He was 3 months shy of his 95th birthday.

Amy K. Kimball, with Edward R. Mudd, Architect

 

black and white historical photo fo Clyde Nelson Friz

Clyde Nelson Friz: An Architect of Tuscany-Canterbury

Architect Clyde Nelson Friz may be known for the Beaux Arts designs of his later works—the Pratt Library Central Branch and The Scottish Rite Temple (both begun in 1928)—but when he arrived in Baltimore right before the turn of the century, he was already a self-made man. He found plenty of demand for his trade after Baltimore’s Great Fire of 1904 and the burgeoning residential growth of the city as it pushed into the surrounding farmlands. One such area was the Tuscany-Canterbury neighborhood—a 90-acre residential treasure, just north of Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus.

Friz was deeply involved in helping to form the character of the neighborhood, where he lived.  He designed its architecture over several decades (between the 1910s and the 1930s), drawing from such Revival styles as Half-Timbered Tudor, Italian Renaissance, and the Mediterranean. Few may know of these tucked away projects today, but at the time, Friz received numerous accolades through national architectural publications.

These are some of the buildings that Friz designed in Tuscany-Canterbury:

Historic Properties

The following properties are of particular historical significance and have been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places or the Baltimore City Commission of Historic And Architectural Preservation (CHAP) Special Protection & Landmark List.

Stone exterior of Castalia house
Castaila, 200 Tuscany Rd.
Special Protection & Landmark List, 2008

Castalia

Prominent Baltimore architect Lawrence Hall Fowler was the architect of this Italian villa-inspired house built for the first headmaster of Calvert School, Virgil Hillyer, in 1929. In 2006, the Calvert School reacquired Castalia and has preserved it for school-related use. Castalia was added to the city’s historic landmark list in 2008, thanks to the efforts of the Tuscany- Canterbury Neighborhood Association and Baltimore Heritage.

5 minute history video on Castalia
Learn More

exterior of multistory building
Highfield House, 4000 N. Charles St.
National Register of Historic Places, 2007

Highfield House

The Highfield House, one of two buildings designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is an outstanding example of International Style architecture. The National Park Service listed the Highfield House to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Only 43 years old at the time, the Highfield House defied the convention of only listing buildings older than 50 years. This recognition marks the significance of the building to the history of modernism in Baltimore.

Highfield House opened as an apartment building in 1964. The main residential floors are 20 feet above the base and 36 columns frame an enclosed lobby and two equally sized areas of sheltered terrace to the north and south. The windows are made of dark gray tinted glass. Below each window is a brick panel. The use of brick decoration can also be seen in Mies’s buildings at IIT.
Learn More

Black and white image of Ascot House prior to being demolished
Ascot House, 102 W 39th St.
Historical photo

Ascot House

The Ascot House, originally the Shiff House, was the first residence designed by Laurence Hall Fowler, one of Baltimore’s outstanding and most prolific architects of the early twentieth century.

Fowler was a master of synthesizing diverse architectural styles. His designs range from the stark purity of Classical architecture, as in the War Memorial, to the electric asymmetrical massing of the Ascot House. The house further depicts Fowler’s knowledge of contemporary English domestic architecture, embellished here, with Georgian and Jacobethan details. After a prolonged court battle, the Ascot House was demolished in 1981 for a parking lot. Read the full court ruling

Source: Baltimore City Website

100 W 39th Street Building today contains 15 rental units: four one bedroom and eleven two bedroom units.

Canterbury Hall (Constructed in 1912)

The area to north of the original Merryman’s Lane (now 39th Street) was redeveloped by the University Parkway Company (associated with the Roland Park Company).  The University Parkway Company sold the lot off of 39th Street Boulevard to the Fireproof Apartment Company to develop a three-story apartment house costing $30K at that time.  Originally called “Haddan Hall,” it was seen as the first of its kind in the city, a suburban apartment house in a garden setting.  The three-story building is composed of brick with stone and terra cotta trimmings on the first floor, and stucco and timber accents on the upper floors in a late Tudor Gothic style.  Several units had maids’ quarters.  Each apartment is separated by 18” fireproof walls and still retains historic elements, such as hardwood floors, glass doorknobs, period lighting, and gas fireplaces with ornamental mantels. 

(Information assembled by Jillian Storms, AIA for Baltimore Heritage Inc. Walking Tour in May 2019) 

221 Stony Run Lane Building contains (14) co-op units that are one, two, and three bedroom units.

The Lombardy (Constructed in 1914)

In 1913, Friz purchased an irregular tract of land from the University Parkway Company for $12k to create a series of apartment buildings.  The first, The Lombardy, was designed in an Italian Renaissance style of brick and terra cotta for $55K in 1914.  It contained a supervisor and maid quarters on the top floor.  In 1917, as cars gained popularity, he built a 10 story garage to its north to accommodate those of the Lombardy and Tuscany.  Fris’ family lived in the first floor apartment. 

(Information assembled by Jillian Storms, AIA for Baltimore Heritage Inc. Walking Tour in May 2019)

The Tuscany (Constructed in 1918)

 

The Tuscany was the second apartment designed in an Italian Renaissance style of brick and terracotta for $55K.  It contained maid and servants quarters primarily in the basement.  To fit in covered parking, he built a one-story esplanade in front that allowed residents to enter the building at the middle level.  Friz and his family lived in a two-story apartment off the garden.  He sold the apartment to the Tuscany Lombardy Community Cooperative in 1920 for approximately $500 (close to $6 million in today’s dollars). 

(Information assembled by Jillian Storms, AIA for Baltimore Heritage Inc. Walking Tour in May 2019) 

3800 N. Charles St.

The Scottish Rite Temple (Constructed in 1930)

The Scottish Rite of Freemasons began construction of the temple building in 1930, and the building opened in 1932. Renowned architect John Russell Pope and Clyde Nelson Friz (and Scottish Rite Mason) designed the structure which is one the finest examples of the Beaux Arts Classicism style in its use of decorative elements, physical massing, and site orientation.

Learn more on the Baltimore Heritage website or the Baltimore City CHAP website.

230 Stony Run Lane Building contains (34) Condo units that are two and three bedrooms.

The Gardens of Guilford, 1922

Formerly known as the Gardens Apartments, the Gardens of Guilford condominiums were built in 1922 by builder and architect Clyde Fritz on land purchased from the University Parkway Co. in 1913.

Canterbury Rd

University Homes

The University Homes consist of 83 3-story residences on 2 streets, Cloverhill road and Canterbury road. They extend in uninterrupted blocks from W 39th st.  to Highfield rd. and from N Charles St. to the Calvert School.  Most University Homes were designed and built by George R. Morris. With others, he formed the University Homes Company in 1917 and began building the first 6 homes on Cloverhill rd. in July 1919. Morris intended University Homes to meet a demand for row houses that were larger, brighter and more luxurious than those available in the city center.  He aimed to make them technologically advanced with mechanical refrigeration and manufactured gas heat.   The concept for the homes was inspired by 5 houses at 835 to 843 West University Parkway designed by Edward L. Palmer.  Other influences were the stately row houses on York Courts, the attached homes of Bretton Place in Guilford, and the English-style row houses in Oakenshawe designed by Flourney and Flourney.

The Homes are varied, some with brick, some with stucco, however the East West exposure allows light to enter all rooms. They were built in groups of two, three and four, giving the development a more individual appearance than the more normal row house appearance.

Today after more than 100 years, large trees have grown up along the streets and alleys, including enormous ginkgo, and small gardens front and back are flourishing with creative landscaping. Thus the neighborhood enjoys the feeling of living in a country village despite being situated in one of the city’s most densely populated districts.