Friday, May 4, 2012

More on Baltimore

"View of Baltimore from Howard's Park" by George Beck, c. 1796
The Maryland Historical Society.

Continuing on my tour of some of Baltimore's highlights, the second part of the previous post of The Devoted Classicist, it was a treat to finally meet David Wiesand of Mclain Wiesand, surely one of Baltimore's most creative and talented classicist artisans.
The Baltimore showroom of Mclain Wiesand.
Photo from the firm's website.

David is phasing out his inventory of antiques and decorative accessories, but take a look at his website to see the catalogue of new home furnishings, represented in To-The-Trade Showrooms around the country.
A vintage view of the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion, now the Engineer's Club.
Photo from the Maryland Historical Society.
A tour of the Engineer's Club, located in the historic Garrett-Jacobs Mansion on Mount Vernon Place, was a real eyeful.  Robert Garrett was the older brother of T. Harrison Garrett of Evergreen House; dead at age 49, his wealthy widow, the former Mary Frick, married her late husband's personal physician Dr. Henry Barton Jacobs.  The original house which had been expanded and remodeled by Stanford White, was expanded again by John Russell Pope who also made some alterations to the original house, eventually growing to occupy four lots.  It is all well-preserved by the club.  Although not normally open to the public, a viewing of the rooms of the main floor is permitted as schedule allows.
Peabody Institute, Baltimore.
Photograph by William Henry Jackson, Prints and Photographs Collection.

The real surprise of the day was the George Peabody Library, formerly the Library of the Peabody Institute of the City of Baltimore, which opened in 1878, designed by Baltimore architect Edmund G. Lind.  I was familiar with the area because my associate Hector Alexander Samada had completed an interior design project on the top floor of a Romanesque Revival townhouse just on the other side of the Washington Monument.  But I had never been inside the library, a research facility open to the public, now part of Johns Hopkins University.
The Stack Room of the George Peabody Library.
Photo from Johns Hopkins University.
The Stack Room would rank high on the list of the most fabulous spaces open to public in the whole country.  The over 300,000 volumes, most dating from the 18th to early 20th century, cover just about every subject for research except music, a reflection of the scholarly interests of the 19th century.  This interior, along with the fashionable urban neighborhood that surrounds it, is a not-to-be-missed atttraction to visitors of Baltimore.
Evergreen House as it appeared circa 1930.
Photo from Johns Hopkins University,
Evergreen House Museum & Library is full of books as well, with several rooms devoted to valuable volumes.  In addition to notable architecture there are interesting furnishings and fine art throughout the mansion, too.  Although I knew about the historic house because of its influence on the legendary decorator Billy Baldwin, I had never visited it before being invited to come speak, as related in a previous blog post here.
Evergreen's ballroom-sized library addition of 1928 by Lawrence Hall Fowler
included a dumbwaiter to lower the rare coin collection into the vault.
Photo from Johns Hopkins University,
There are many features to interest visitors, not the least being the notable bathrooms of various styles and periods, several of which are on view during the tour.  And the kitchen is currently undergoing restoration.
A view of the Lobby area adjacent to the Theatre at Evergreen House,
with painted decoration by Leon Bakst.
Photo from Johns Hopkins University.
My talk was given in the Leon Bakst-decorated theatre which was formerly a gymnasium.  The small stage can display one of three fantastic scenic backdrops that Bakst painted, and the adjacent space, used as the theatre lobby, is covered with his designs;  the decoration is original but the white background has been refreshed.  I was happy to meet Meg Fairfax Fielding of Pigtown*Design and a number of other Devoted Readers who had come from Washington, DC, Old Town Alexandria, VA, and even one from West New York, NJ.  Also, it was a pleasure to meet the JHU architect Travers Nelson, Program Manager, Design & Construction. 
The cover of the catalog from the exhibit at Evergreen Museum & Library.
Image by John J. Tackett for The Devoted Classicist blog.

Tours of Evergreen begin and end in the former Billiard Room in the added wing.  Believed to have been designed by Stanford White, it bears many similarities to the Parlor Stairhall from the Metcalfe House, Buffalo, designed by McKim, Mead and White now installed in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  The space is now used as the Gift Shop and contains many interesting items for sale including the books by the authors from their speaker series and publications that accompanied special Evergreen exhibitions.  Those wishing to order publications such as BALTIMORE'S BILLY BALDWIN by James Archer Abbott may do so through the link or by calling the museum.
A view of the rear of Evergreen House before the 1928 library additon on the left.
The greenhouse with its onion dome turret is no longer extant.
The theatre wing can be seen on the right, extending out towards the garden.
Photo from the Maryland Historical Society.
One of Evergreen's best attended annual events is the Alice's Wonderland Garden Party, this year to be held on Thursday, May 10, 2012.  In addition to being an evening of fun, it is a fund-raiser for the museum with additional revenue being raised with a silent auction.  There are many fine items that have been donated, not the least being a pair of Louis XVI style fauteuils with hand-painted velvet upholstery.
A pair of fauteuils stamped JANSEN to be auctioned to benefit Evergreen House
at the Alice's Wonderland Garden Party, May 10, 2012.
Photo from Evergreen Museum & Library.
In addition to the curator-director of Evergreen, Jim Abbott, I owe great thanks to Nancy Powers, Museum Services Coordinator, and Ben Renwick, Facilities and Operations Coordinator, for all their help in making my presentation a success.  It was a memorable experience, seeing the highlights of Baltimore and meeting some of its most interesting residents.


  1. Thanks for the kind mention! I will also have to forward this to Travers, who's in Oslo now! I am so glad you had such beautiful weather while you were with us, and that you got to see some of the best of Baltimore!

    1. Meg, yes it was beautiful in Baltimore and I had the best trip. I hope the Evergreen group is as fortunate with their trip to Tennessee next month. I will meet the group at a private residence in Memphis, home to the most wonderful couple with fabulous art and antique collections.

  2. Thanks for the delightful tour of "your" Baltimore, John.
    The Stack Room of the George Peabody Library is downright swoon-worthy!

    1. Toby, entering the Stack Room on the main floor on the end of the space with all that wondrously towering above is truly amazing. Thanks for your comments.

  3. You have inspired us to make a trip to B-more in the next several months. Homewood, Ladew, the Walter's, and Evergreen are most definitely on the list, plus a ballgame one afternoon. Would that Haussner's was still there, a great favorite of mine back in the day. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Reggie

    1. Reggie, the only other place I visited that was not mentioned in this post or in the preceding was the restaurant Petit Louis. It is in an Arts & Crafts building some think to be the first suburban strip shopping center. Recommended.

    2. if reggie and boy come down, petit louis is on the list of places, for sure! i had lunch there on friday and it was fabulous!

  4. Thanks so much yet again. "high on the list of the most fabulous spaces open to public" indeed.


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