August 14, 2017

Obsessed by a House

In a recent post, the one about H. Pleasants Pennington, I posted a picture of a fascinating house that was shown in the architect’s monograph that I found in Montreal. long xThe house was listed with the name of the man who comissioned it, and its general location. That lead me down a rabbit-hole of searching for the house with very few clues, and with those leading to more discoveries.

It took a little bit of work to find out where the house was located, and once I got the general address, and realized it was no longer a private home, I set out to find it. Of course, the address was a red herring, but I managed to slueth it out, regardless.IMG_3702x

It’s an amazing house: A five-part Georgian, with an extra wing added (right side, below), all totaling 11,000 square feet. IMG_3715

Of course, as I research the house, I find out more and more, but there are also some mysteries.

The first is the colour. In all of the early images of the house, it’s cream or yellow colour, not the plain brick that it is today. In the images below, it almost looks like painted brick, but when you look at the brick close up, it doesn’t look like it’s been painted. IMG_3992

In these two renderings, done in the late 1940’s, the house is clearly a pale colour and it almost looks like it could be some sort of applied stucco. IMG_3986IMG_3988

The house makes more sense to me with the pale shade, and the front arch works much better. I also love the shutters for the Palladian-style windows. And the crazy ivy on the front fa├žade! IMG_3992

Both of these photographs, from the 1930’s and 40’s, show the pale shade, and the ivy. IMG_4017IMG_4019

When I got close up to the front of the house, I could see some spots where it looks like there might have been some stucco. As I said, the house makes much more sense painted or stuccoed in cream or pale yellow than in brick. IMG_3762The original owner of the house died in the late 1940’s and his wife moved out and sold or transferred the house to its current owners. The house is no longer in use, which is a shame. Regrettably, one of the current owners is not known for their support of historic preservation, so it is sad that this place is just being left to deteriorate.

I do have some of the early images of the interior, which I will show you along with the current views, where I have them.

Center Hall – Interesting that the hinges on the door are still hall

Corner Room – This was a decorator show house one year, which may account for some of the changes.corner room

Sunroom wing – Too bad the wonderful curved shutters are missing.side

Sunroom – Clearly the same room, I just can’t quite figure out the angle.sunroom

The family’s three sons at an old stone gate.gate

Another view of the front hallhall


Random visitors, aka the Duke & Duchess of Windsor (Look at her wasp waist!)windsors

I wish that they would use this house for something other than storage, but my understanding it that it will take so much money to bring it up to code and repair the issues, that it’s not worth it to the owners. Because it’s less than 100 years old, and isn’t really significant in any way, it’s not protected. And if it was, it probably wouldn’t matter to either the owners or the local jurisdiction.

NB: I am being a bit quiet about the owners and location of this house on purpose. I have had a conversation with the current owners who have offered me a tour.

August 8, 2017

#ThisIsBaltimore: Summer Edition

Summer is just whipping by, isn’t it? Hard to believe it’s almost the second week of August. It’s been a busy couple of months on Instagram, including some pictures of my Canadian adventure. But for this post, we’ll stick to Baltimore.

I love alleys, and love that you can look down an alley and see history.image

Hampton Mansion, just north of Baltimore. image

Not Baltimore, but damn, this gin is good!image

This is the entrance to a walled garden and house.image

This is part of a little village of about 20 houses.image

Is there anything better than having summer drinks on the porch?image

Lake Roland, just after a huge storm.image

The most perfect summer day, watching my friend Sam Robinson painting at friends’ farm.image

Someone desperately needs to be groomed.image

I am working on a big post about the house that I am currently obsessing over! Stay tuned…

August 1, 2017

Pleasants Pennington: Then and Now

A few weeks ago, I posted about a stunning house in Baltimore and while I was researching its history, I came across the architect: Hall Pleasants Pennington. His father was Josias Pennington, a well-known architect in Baltimore, and he’s listed on the “Dead Architects” section of the Baltimore Architecture Foundation’s website. But there is scant information about Pleasants. So I am looking.IMG_3701

Pleasants practiced in Baltimore with his father, but after his father’s retirement, moved to New York and worked there for years. He was a society favourite and worked on a number of residential projects with Dorothy Draper. He also designed several apartment buildings in NYC, including at least one on Central Park.IMG_3463x

Of course, the one book I found – a catalogue of his works as Pennington & Lewis – was in Montreal. Luckily, I happened to be headed there a few days later, so, I made an appointment with the Canadian Center for Architecture to see the book. As my friend AD Aesthete said: “Pennington was a wonderful architect, too little known. Not great, but wonderful.”

And as I’ve delved into his Baltimore area projects, I’ve discovered that AD is right – he is wonderful! In his early years working with his father, he worked on several municipal projects and a few residential projects. I’ve been able to find some of those which are still standing, and archival images of those which aren’t. Below are the images from the 1920’s and then from now.

Baltimore City Fire Department Headquarters
ThenFire Dept


Baltimore County Courthouse
ThenTowson Courthouse

Now – Pennington designed the wings which were added in the 1920’sIMG_3615

Druid Hill Park Bath House 
ThenDruid Hill


Belmont Manor Pool House

Now – I have a visit planned here later in August.
A friend did some architectural work at this house and is looking for the plans. image

Long Crandon
Thenlong crandonx

Now. I took a ton of pictures of this house and will write about it soon. IMG_3749IMG_3715

Kernewood, about which I wrote last month. ThenKernewood 2


Thenkernewood lr






ThenKernewood 1


Here are a few of Pennington’s Baltimore area buildings which no longer exist, unfortunately.

The Baltimore Municipal Stadium.
Interestingly, the urns at the corners of the building are in someone’s front yard near me!Baltimore Muni Stadium 1

The Broening BoathouseBroening Boathouse

The Police Department HeadquartersPolice HQ 1

Here’s another little piece about Pennington from the well-loved blog, Half Pudding, Half Sauce. As I mentioned, watch for a post about Long Crandon, which I visited on a beautiful late afternoon in July.