Proposed: Howard Street CHAP District
At the July 11th CHAP hearing the Commission voted to designate the Howard Street Local Historic District. This was the second public hearing on the proposed designation. The designation now moves to the Planning Commission and then City Council. For more information on the designation process visit the Designation FAQ page.
Summary of Historic Significance
The proposed Howard Street local historic district is home to a cohesive group of modestly scaled commercial structures at the northern end of Baltimore’s historic retail district. The proposed district is part of the larger Market Center National Register Historic District, which is home to large department stores, banking centers, theaters and restaurants. The Howard Street District represents the smaller, specialized retailers in buildings that transitioned from primarily residential to commercial use at the turn of the 20th century.
Howard Street became the major thoroughfare through the retail district and was home to a variety of commercial and manufacturing enterprises housed primarily in residential structures. In the late 19th century, the 400 block was home to a number of stables and laundries, as well as furniture manufacturing and upholstery operations that were located on the first floors, with residential quarters on the uppers floors. In the early to mid-20th century, the majority of the buildings in the 400 block of North Howard Street were redesigned for primarily commercial use or completely replaced with modest, purpose-built commercial structures intended to serve as shops and showrooms. By the early 20th century, this block of Howard Street was home to music stores, piano showrooms, furniture stores, and later automobile showrooms.
The Howard Street district is unique in the larger retail center because it is primarily composed of smaller, one- to four-story buildings, with decorative cornices, metal bay windows, and first-floor storefronts. The commercial district represents a distinct collection of modest commercial structures that contributed to the larger retail district on Baltimore’s West Side.