Better Waverly Historic District is a portion of the larger Waverly community which is today composed of several distinct neighborhoods. First annexed to the city in 1888, the District was characterized as a former Victorian Village, once surrounded by large estates and summer mansions, built largely during the second half of the nineteenth century. Development accelerated in 1910 and hit its peak after World War One. The District is a predominantly residential community though with many commercial buildings along its western border and industrial structures in its southeastern portion. The District captures the architecture and landscape of a Victorian-era village to a turn of the century suburban rowhome neighborhood. The small cottages and larger country residences are representative of the rural-Gothic or Victorian-jigsaw cottage design. Characteristics of this style included two-story gabled or mansard roof construction and ornate cornices generally decorated with bargeboards or brackets and consoles.
Better Waverly Historic District is important because it demonstrates the blending of a Victorian-era village with that of a suburban rowhome neighborhood. Developing in three stages the first homes were large estates and summer mansions built in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Wealthy and well-to-do Baltimoreans developed estates around Greenmount Avenue and what would later become 33rd Street and Ellerslie Avenue. With the development of the electric streetcar many of these Baltimoreans chose to make the area their permanent residence. Prominent people in the District included landowners August Hoen, John Fox, Henry Taylor, A.D. Clemens, Joseph Cone and a local teacher and noted author, Lizette Woodworth Reese