The Park Circle Historic District is a large, primarily residential district, located northwest of Druid Hill Park. Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road are the two main thoroughfares within the district, and the intersection of these roads serves as the southern boundary of the district. The district is bound primarily to the north by Shirley Avenue. The housing in the neighborhood generally dates to the first decades of the 20th century, with two-story brick duplexes dating from the 1910s and two and three-story brick rowhouses dating from the 1920s. Only a few early frame houses remain; the majority of the housing stock is of masonry construction. While there are some variations in materials and design, tan brick, large front porches, and projecting bay windows are common elements on duplexes, while red brick and tiled mansard roofs are common to rowhouses. There is one unique block of Pueblo Revival style homes on Reisterstown Road. The shift from duplex to rowhouse construction in the early 20th century demonstrated the change in the attitude of developers from an interest in providing side yards and open space to maximizing the use available space. Institutional buildings within the district include the Louisa May Alcott School (individually listed on the National Register), a branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Sharrei Zion Synagogue, and the Talmudical Academy School. Although there are vacant lots and new development, the district still presents a cohesive collection of early 20th century dwellings and important institutional and commercial buildings.
Statement Of Significance
The Park Circle Historic District is significant for its early 20th century architecture as well as its association with Baltimore’s Jewish population. The neighborhood is characterized by two-story brick duplexes and rowhouses with distinctive decorative features. Constructed in the early 20th century, Park Circle lies just outside the city’s urban core and still maintains it residential feel. The neighborhood was also an important home to the local Jewish community as Eastern European immigrants settled in the neighborhoods along Park Heights Avenue. The local institutions, the Sharrei Zion Synagogue and the Talmudical Academy School, are not only a testament to the growth of the neighborhood in the early 20th century, but also the influence that the Jewish community had on the neighborhood. Local businesses, such as Kosher butcher shops, have since been demolished, but were significant to the cultural and religious community that once lived in Park Circle. The neighborhood also produced a number of prominent figures, including Jack Pollack, a political heavyweight and the head of the Trenton Democratic Club, Gilbert Sandler, columnist and author, and Arthur Waskow, political activist, author and rabbi. Although the neighborhood has since undergone a demographic change, it retains its cohesive architecture and its historic ties with the local Jewish community.