Works in Baltimore
|Name:||Oliver Historic District—Madison Square|
|Address:||bounded by North Avenue on the north, Broadway on the east, Eager Street on the south and around Madison Square and Harford Avenue|
|Standing? Some||Year: late 1800s|
The Madison Square—Oliver Neighborhood is an area of approximately thirty-two square blocks in east-central Baltimore City. It is generally bounded by North Avenue on the north, Broadway on the east, Eager Street on the south and around Madison Square and Harford Avenue on the west. The street pattern is one of grids imposed on the district without regard to the older northeast to southwest-running thoroughfares that in part bound the district. The larger blocks are in turn divided by narrow streets and narrower alleys generally running north and south, though occasionally bisected by east and west streets. The district consists of brick rowhouses that are still residential. Interspersed among these structures are quite a few brick and stone churches and public service buildings, such as fire houses and schools. There are three major open sites in the district, Madison Square, laid out in 1853 but now half-covered by an apartment complex, the Broadway Squares, above Gay Street, and a row of vacant lots that run along the southern side of Hoffman Street. The rowhouses once here were demolished around 1930. The district contains around 2000 buildings. Rowhouse styles include vernacular adaptations of such popular revival modes as Renaissance, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Neo-classical, and retain a wealth of architectural details including leaded colored glass, bracketed, modillioned, and scroll-saw cut out cornices, pointed and segmental gables, true mansards, false gables and mansards, door hoods and original door hardware. There are also raised stone basements, first-story storefronts, set-backs with porches and/or side entries. Many houses are also covered in formstone, and have Serpentine or bow fronts.
The Madison Square-Oliver Historic Neighborhood is still a cohesive neighborhood of the mid-nineteenth century through the early twentieth-century brick rowhouses interspersed with numerous churches, schools, small commercial establishment, and other neighborhood service building from the same period of its development. This district must be considered as part of the continuing north-eastward expansion of Baltimore City along its major thoroughfares. It was closely connected to the area to its south, though much of that area has been lost to urban renewal. The area south of Hoffman Street was generally referred to as Madison Square, after the public park situated within it, and the region to the north was known as Oliver (if ever by any particular name), after merchant Robert Oliver, whose estate, Green Mount, comprised both the present Greenmount Cemetery and much of the land surrounding it, in the early nineteenth century. Development began around Madison Square shortly after the Civil War, hit a peak in the early 1870s slumped later in that decade, picked up in the later 1880s, when it reached Hoffman Street, and spread sporadically to the north in the early 1890s, filling most of the land by 1896. Churches tended to precede rowhouses, then were replaced with larger structures in the same area. School were often associated with these churches, which represented a wide variety of denominations. Most of the early churches were brick, the largest being stone, but after the 1890s most churches were made of the more expensive stone. Two prime examples are Holy Innocents Episcopal Church of 1874, by Frank Davis, and Faith Presbyterian Church of 1882 by Charles Carson. Madison Square-Oliver was predominantly German and Irish, and strongly Catholic, and there were quite a few important Catholic institutions either within its bounds or nearby. These included St. Joseph's Hospital of 1873 and 1898 (the latter by Baldwin and Pennington), and the St. Paul's Church of 1902, by Thomas Kennedy. Other buildings of note are the George Baurenschmidt House, of 1890, by George A. Frederick, and the Gompers Schools (Eastern Female High School) of 1905-86, by Simonson and Pietsch. Today the area is largely Black and Baptist. Though the houses have suffered from the neglect of maintenance, they are generally in good shape, and a small amount of restoration activity is occurring in the neighborhood.