- Baltimore City Historic District Ordinance 20-0502 07/27/2020
- National Register of Historic Places: 12/29/2003
Situated immediately west of the Jones Falls, and abutting the northern boundary of Druid Hill Park, the Woodberry district preserves and adapts aspects of its industrial heritage and continues to maintain the physical integrity of the mill village and company town it once was (Image 1). It is established on topography that rises from the Jones Falls Valley, which was a major center of commerce for the state. The street plan reflects its development over 175 years—irregular near the channel of the falls at its eastern edge, while more planned and grid-like in the northwest quadrant.
The neighborhood’s relative isolation, on a rise with limited connections to the larger city, and its situation among large swaths of parkland, contribute to its village-like character. Clipper Road, along the east side, is the neighborhood’s oldest, running along former railroad lines which now serve the regional light rail system. Located to the east of the tracks, adjacent to the Jones Falls, a line of large industrial buildings run north to south, forming the eastern-most boundary of the district, dominated at the south end by Meadow Mill, with its distinctive tower. The residential sections of the district contain houses with front and back yards. Alleys and a few remaining footpaths add to the circulation possibilities. In 1951, the 41st Street viaduct was completed, increasing access to and from the district. While it is a part of the landscape today, the viaduct slices down into the early 19th century part of the district between two of the oldest stone duplexes in Woodberry. East-west circulation within the district is provided by Rockrose Avenue, Girard Avenue, and Clipper Park Road. Druid Park Drive is the only street that carries traffic in and out of the district on the west side.
The residential architecture of the proposed historic district includes early and mid-19th century stone and masonry millworkers’ duplex residences, late 19th century rowhouses and free-standing masonry and frame residences, and rowhouses built in the years before and after World Wars I and II. One early 19th century mansion house, albeit much altered, survives as part of a nursing home. The center of the district is dominated by the remnants of the huge Poole & Hunt Foundry and Machine Works, some of which dates to the 1850s. Portions of the former factory have been adapted for commercial and residential uses incorporating new construction. In addition, townhouses built in the 2010s line Clipper Park Road. The southern section of the former Poole & Hunt land has been filled in with a 21st century residential development of modernist design nestled against the backdrop of wooded Druid Hill Park. In the southeast corner of the district, Brick Hill is its own tiny enclave of three streets and five blocks of company-built workers’ duplexes. The two dozen historic houses create a setting that remarkably has changed very little since the mid-19th century. In the southwest corner of the district, the former William E. Hooper and Sons Hooperwood mill buildings are significant anchors. The district has two historic religious structures (Image 2).
Woodberry’s history is intimately tied to—and continues to reflect—Baltimore’s industrial past. Its location was attractive initially because the Jones Falls provided water power to operate flour mills in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The opening in 1843 of the Woodberry Factory, a cotton mill on the site of the Woodberry Flouring Mill was the spark that ignited rapid change and growth. As the mills shifted from flour to cotton duck, rope, twine and netting, the scale of the operations grew, the available technology changed, and steam became the power source. Worker housing necessarily followed, built by the factory owners and rented to its labor force—hence, the houses of Brick Hill and the stone duplexes along Clipper Road. Amenities to serve the workers followed, such as a school, company store, and a church. In the mid-19th century, the heavy industry of iron and steel fabrication joined the cotton mills in the area. The Jones Falls Valley location of these enterprises remained important, because of its water source and because railroad lines along the falls transported coal and raw materials in and finished products out.
Growth through the Civil War and into the later 19th century led to Woodberry’s rise as the state’s largest industrial town aside from Baltimore. Mill construction continued, including the opening of Meadow Mill in 1877. Housing was needed to keep pace with the demand, and private developers took over. With the annexation of Woodberry by Baltimore City in 1888, the irregular siting of some of the wood frame housing of the post-Civil War period gave way to the more planned look that brought the district into the 20th century and through the years of World Wars I and II. These residential blocks would remain despite the cycle of abandonment and disinvestment which would befall the industrial buildings in their midst. Meadow Mill ceased textile production in 1956. Balmar Corporation, the successor to Poole & Hunt, operated on the site until around 1970. On the west side of the district, the cotton mill built by the William E. Hooper Corporation operated until the early 1990s.
Three National Register districts are contained within the proposed Woodberry local historic district: Poole & Hunt Company Buildings (1973, 2003), Brick Hill (1988), and Woodberry (2003). In addition, Meadow Mill, also known as Londontown Manufacturing Company, Inc., was listed in 1973.
The Woodberry we know today is “the original kernel of the Hampden-Woodbury area” (MHT, 2003, sec. 8, p. 1), when it was founded in the mid-1840s as “Woodbury.” Its establishment is tied to the construction in 1843 of the Woodberry Factory by Horatio N. Gambrill, David N. Carroll and associates on the site of Elisha Tyson’s 1803 Woodberry flouring mill. Workers’ housing was built to the west, and a village was born. The flour mills were located in the Jones Falls valley for their access to water power, but by 1843 steam power was already in use, and the falls were used to dump waste. Between 1845 and 1855, other nearby flour mill sites were converted to cotton mills, and in 1855, adjacent to the Woodberry Factory, the stone Park Mill was constructed. The Baltimore & Susquehanna and later the Northern Central railroad lines brought coal from Pennsylvania and provided transportation of raw materials in and finished goods out. Baltimore and its port were only three miles away (Image 3).
An article in the Baltimore Sun in 1847 described Gambrill and Carroll’s Woodberry in glowing terms, noting the “handsome residences of the operatives” along with Gambrill’s mansion and a handsome Gothic church “built of stone like the rest of the edifices” (MHT, 2003, sec.8, p. 3). At this time there were an estimated 40 residences, two to a block across the railroad tracks from the Woodberry Factory. The primacy of the mill can be seen by the orientation of the houses along Railroad Avenue (today’s Clipper Road)—whether located on the east or west side of the street, the fronts faced the mill. There were two mansion houses; one survives, although it is much altered and today is part of a nursing home. It appeared on an 1850 map, Sydney’s City and County of Baltimore. The second was the home of Robert Hooper, now demolished. Before the Civil War, the village clung to Railroad Avenue, with brick store/post office and the stone workers’ duplexes across the tracks from the mill along a ridge in a picturesque Gothic Revival fashion with front and back gardens (Image 4).
To the south of these houses, beginning in 1853 Robert Poole and partner German Hunt began building what would become the largest foundry and machine shop in the state and one of the most influential in the country. On a site that was likely graded to create a large flat area, what was originally Poole & Hunt Union Works began to rise. It would grow over 60 years into a collection of six major brick and stone industrial buildings, some of monumental proportions. The site contained a mill race along its southern edge. Further south, up the hill from the mill race, a cluster of workers’ duplexes was constructed by the company. Given that the majority of its houses were masonry, it became known as Brick Hill. Enclosed on two sides by the woods of what would become Druid Hill Park, its five blocks and three streets offered a certain amount of seclusion and lots large enough for kitchen gardens (Image 5). Poole built his own home on a hill east of the Jones Falls, away from the machine works.
The Poole & Hunt complex was organized to ensure that its form followed the functions performed. It grew in scale and sophistication of operations as technology advanced. Foundry operations lined the north side of an east-west rail spur that bisected the site (today’s Clipper Park Road). Machining and assembling operations lined the south side. Materials and products moved through the shops and onto the transportation network which was enabled by the firm’s own locomotive and teams of horses and wagons. The machine shop, at the southeast side of the site, was built in 1853. The blacksmith’s shop on the north side was built about 1856 (Image 6).
In 1860, Baltimore City dedicated Druid Hill Park, cementing a southern boundary for Woodberry village. To the north, Jesse Tyson began building his home on his estate at Cylburn in 1863, which prevented any further northern expansion of the village. From 1865 to 1877, expansion moved west from Railroad Avenue away from the Jones Falls, with 18 new houses built on Woodbury Avenue (today’s Druid Park Drive). Most were vernacular wood frame houses with a variety of setbacks from the street. The masonry parsonage for the Woodberry Methodist Church was built here on the north side of the street in 1867. Today’s Gothic Revival stone church replaced the village’s first church and was begun the same year. Sometime in this period, the first Woodberry School, on the north side of Woodberry Avenue and to the west of the church was constructed.
By the end of the Civil War and before the City’s 1888 annexation, the area around the mills along the Jones Falls valley consisted of seven villages: Mount Vernon, Clipper, Druidville, Woodberry, Hampden in Woodberry, Sweet Aire and Hampden Village. New mills were added on the east side of the Jones Falls. Druid Mill (today’s Union Mill; not in the Woodberry district) was built in 1866 and expanded in 1872. Meadow Mill, designed by Reuben Gladfelter for the Hooper family, opened in 1877, raising the bar for industrial architecture with its attention to design detail (Image 7).
The Poole & Hunt complex grew during this period, adding the foundry building on the north side around 1870 and adding the first erecting shop and the wagon house/stables on the south side in 1890. The erecting shop was notable for its size—100 feet long and a clearance of some 54 feet under an electric overhead crane. It was large enough to build a 65-foot diameter sand wheel for the Calumet and Hecla copper mine of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Image 8).
With the rapid growth of the mills after the Civil War, mill owners began allowing market forces to drive the development of housing. From 1877 to the end of the century, brick duplexes began to fill in among the frame houses on Woodberry Avenue (today’s Druid Park Drive). Three groups of rowhouses were constructed on Hooper, Plymouth (today’s Rockrose) and Maple Avenue (today’s Malden Avenue). Responding to Baltimore City building code requirements after the village was annexed to the city in 1888, some of the houses are wood frame with brick facades. Frank L. Morling’s Woodberry Land Company had visions for intensive development as seen on Hopkins’ 1876 maps and the Bromley Atlas of 1896 (Images 9 & 10). Morling heavily promoted the area through his Woodberry News, but it wouldn’t be until after his death that most of his lands were developed beginning in the 1920s and into the 1950s. Architect Reuben Gladfelter formed Gladfelter & Chambers, Contractors and Builders after 1886 and went into the land development business himself, holding property that would be developed on the east side of today’s Malden Avenue.
Woodberry’s 1888 annexation by the city didn’t result in an immediate spurt of development in the former mill village. What development there was, happened mostly east of the Jones Falls, closer to transportation linkages to the city. By 1895, however, a spur of the city suburban railway on Union Street provided some connection to those living in Woodberry. A decade later, a vision of the Jones Falls valley as a park-like “emerald necklace” within the Olmsted Brothers’ 1904 Report Upon the Development of Public Grounds for Greater Baltimore would have affected Woodberry, but it was unrealized. That same year, at the opposite end of the district on the west side of Parkdale Avenue, William E. Hooper & Sons built a new cotton mill, powered entirely by electricity.
Woodberry had originally been platted for more single-family homes, but by the late 19th century, the rowhouse—inexpensive to build and easy to rent or buy—was adopted. Late 19th century rows were mainly constructed in the central part of the district on Rockrose, Girard, Hooper and Druid Park Drive, but some were constructed farther west on Malden Avenue as well. Development on the west side grew in the years before World War I, with construction on Keystone Avenue, the western end of Druid Park Drive and additional development on Malden (Image 11). The 1920s saw the introduction of daylight houses on Parkdale and Keystone Avenues, and on Malden Avenue. In the years leading up to and after World War II, rowhouses of simple design were constructed on the east end of Druid Park Drive, and along Parkdale and Girard Avenues. In all, 17 rows of rowhouses were built between the 1910s and the mid-1950s in the district. At the north edge of the district, the City completed the purchase of Tyson’s Cylburn estate in 1942, protecting those acres from development. The construction of the 41st Street viaduct was completed in 1951. The large lot that had contained the Hooper family house and the first Woodberry school was divided by the roadway. North of it, a bottling plant (today’s Fox 45 TV studios) was constructed in the late 1940s. South of it, a dairy products packing and distributing company and a rug cleaning plant were built.
The development footprint of the district remained relatively unchanged through the rest of the 20th century. The foundry and mill buildings remained but changed hands (Image 12). The late 20th century saw renewed interest in the district. Meadow Mill was redeveloped in 1990; it was one of the earliest industrial adaptive re-use projects in the city. Following a ferocious fire in 1995 that destroyed the old Poole & Hunt Machine Shop at the entrance to the complex, the former Poole & Hunt properties began to be redeveloped. A major redevelopment plan was announced, and by 2006 a new apartment building on the former machine shop site had been constructed.
Redevelopment of Poole & Hunt buildings on the north side of the site continued with a combination of adaptive re-use and new construction of townhomes along Clipper Park Road, the former factory rail spur. In 2009, Overlook Clipper Mill was completed at the south side of the district, with 38 duplex homes on former land of the Poole & Hunt foundry. A project for the development of 30 units in 15 new townhomes on the site of the 1889 Woodberry School on Druid Park Drive received final design approval from the City Planning Commission in November 2019. Plans for the development of the Poole & Hunt Tractor Building are currently moving through the Planning Department’s Urban Design & Architectural Advisory Panel (UDAAP).
Social and Cultural History
The rise of the textile-producing mill in the U.S. can be traced to international politics in the 18th and early 19th century prior to the War of 1812. Early U.S. mills had focused on spinning yarn, since weaving was a home occupation. The country relied on imports for finished goods. The mills scaled up to spinning and weaving when European finished textiles were limited due to an embargo on British goods. The mills also turned to cotton for raw material, replacing linen. These circumstances, combined with the growth of sailing ships—and their need for sail cloth—laid the groundwork for the establishment of the mill culture of Maryland’s middle Jones Falls Valley and the story of Woodberry. This culture was molded throughout the 19th century by a number of ambitious men relying on the labor of men, women, and children.
David Carroll and Horatio Gambrill had invested in other existing early mills that produced yarn for weavers. With the invention of the power loom in 1839, the mills could both spin and weave textiles under one roof. They first converted the Whitehall Flour Mill (Clipper Mill), and then in 1843 they converted Elisha Tyson’s flour mill at Woodberry to the Woodberry Factory. Both mills produced cotton duck (sail cloth), that all-important material for the clipper ships. The stone duplex workers’ housing on Railroad Avenue (today’s Clipper Road) was built by the owners for the Woodberry Factory workers.
William E. Hooper was a sail cloth wholesaler and one of Gambrill’s best customers. In 1847, when Carroll separated his business from Gambrill, Hooper joined Gambrill in the enterprise. Park Mill was built by the company in 1855 just south of the Woodberry Factory to produce seine twine and netting. In 1865 Gambrill sold out to Hooper and by the following year, Hooper was the largest mill owner in greater Woodberry. In keeping with the company-town ethos, Hooper supplied the first school in Woodberry. Reuben Gladfelter began serving as the architect and construction superintendent of William E. Hooper & Son in 1853 and would continue until 1880. A Baltimore native of Swiss heritage, he had trained at the Maryland Institute. He designed or expanded many of the Hooper Company mills and may have also designed one or more units of the worker housing on Railroad Avenue.
In the mid-1850s, Robert Poole and partner German Hunt acquired land from William E. Hooper and John Clark to move their Union Works, a machine shop, to Woodberry from downtown Baltimore. Born in 1818 in Ireland, Robert Poole had translated his training in the machine shops of cotton mills and railroad locomotive works to the establishment in 1843 of a machine works in partnership with William Ferguson. When Ferguson retired, Hunt became partner in 1851. The move to Woodberry was precipitated by a fire at the downtown machine works, although the company’s offices, from which Hunt handled its financial affairs, remained downtown. Hunt, born in 1829, had worked on the south side of the Baltimore harbor basin in a steam engine factory. In other capacities, he served as secretary and president of the Maryland Institute and served on the boards of two banks.
Poole & Hunt, which had 250 workers in 1857—and 700 by 1881—produced the items that made 19th century America work: first, presses, gears, shafts, steam boilers and tanks; then, steam engines and the Leffel-Poole turbine, which revolutionized hydraulic power internationally; and the machinery that made cable railways work in Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, Hoboken, Kansas and New York. They also produced the machinery to aid the construction of the U.S. Capitol building and the iron columns supporting Thomas U. Walters’ ca. 1856 dome. Iron columns in New Orleans’ U.S. Customhouse are also the work of Poole & Hunt.
With the move to Woodberry, Poole and his partner joined the patriarchy of the factory village. The company constructed workers’ housing in Brick Hill, and in return the company expected certain behaviors from its employees. By the early 19th century, alcohol that was easily produced from an abundance of grain was being consumed by the working class at what many saw as an alarming rate. No longer available just to the well-to-do, liquor had become a problem that churches stepped up to address. This movement was supported by factory owners who saw not only a religious issue, but one of business, productivity, and economics affecting the bottom line. Most of them devout Methodists, the owners gave generously to endow the construction of churches. An 1866 county ordinance made Woodberry dry, and so there was no drinking—or dancing—in Woodberry for years.
McGrain (1985) quotes Howard’s The Monumental City published in 1873:
…in all the constituent elements of a manufacturing town, Woodberry may be considered a model. Under the control, influence and nurture of Messrs. Poole & Hunt, and the Proprietors of the neighboring Cotton Mills, it has grown almost to the proportions of a city, free from every species of social and public disorder. They have never permitted the sale of Liquors within a mile of its centre (sic), have discouraged all demoralizing influences, and encouraged and sustained the church, school and family culture. (p. 336)
While they were often closely involved with the lives of their workers, the factory owners rarely lived near their operations. Robert Poole’s estate was Maple Hill west of the Jones Falls (location of today’s Robert Poole School building). German Hunt lived on Eutaw Place in the city. The Hooper family home, however, was in Woodberry, on a large plot of land west of the Methodist Church on Westbury Avenue (today’s Druid Park Drive).
After the Civil War, Hampden-Woodbury was Maryland’s second largest industrial town after Baltimore. The number of workers rose substantially in the ensuing decades, despite some economic bumps in the road. For example, in the midst of a depression, the Hooper family built the Gladfelter-designed Meadow Mill in 1877, which broke the mold for mill design in the valley, offering beauty as well as utility. The economy rebounded, and by 1881 half the cotton duck in the world came from Woodberry mills, and Poole & Hunt was Maryland’s largest iron foundry. William E. Hooper died in 1885. The company’s collection of five mills (Meadow, Druid, Woodberry, Park and Clipper) are bequeathed to his sons Theodore, James, and Alcaeus.
Scharf’s (1881) History of Baltimore City and County sums up the attitude toward the mill villages from one perspective:
Thrift, sobriety and neatness characterize all the surroundings, and this cluster of manufactures is frequently spoken of as an illustration of the truth that capital and labor may go peacefully hand in hand. (p. 837)
Capital and labor were what it was all about, after all. Beginning in 1880 and for the next thirty years, Poole & Hunt was in Baltimore’s top three industries in net value and capital. Labor made all this happen. Between the mills and the foundry, a range of skills was needed from laborer to machinist. Women and children made up much of the mill workforce. Men worked in the foundry. Through the 19th century the source of labor had been domestic, regional, and rural. The 1880 census showed that the vast majority of Woodberry residents were native Marylanders from rural counties. All were white. Any from outside the state were from sections of Virginia or Pennsylvania. What few immigrants there were, came from Germany or Great Britain. Added to the industrial labor force were a range of other workers in the trades or services: carpenters, stone masons, house painters, plasterers and architects. This demonstrates that the area continued to demand housing. Reuben Gladfelter formed a development company in 1886 and developed land in Woodberry. He also designed homes in Roland Park.
The paternalistic system of mill operation, where the entire family was the work force beholden to the mill or factory owner, seemed to operate well for most of the century, but after the Civil War, workers began to flex their collective muscles as periods of boom and bust led to disputes with the owners over hours, working conditions, and pay. The Knights of Labor, in actions it led between 1874 and 1884, advocated for the 8-hour day, the abolition of child labor, and equal pay for women. Things didn’t improve that much. The state’s child labor laws had loopholes allowing children to work with permission. The 1900 census showed that in Woodberry typically all unmarried offspring aged 12 to 25 worked in the mill. Children aged 7 to 12 were to be in school. Most of the families rented their homes.
The generation of mill owners turned as German Hunt retired from Poole & Hunt in 1889. He would spend the rest of his life as president of the board of trustees of the McDonogh School. The firm became Robert Poole & Son until Robert Poole’s death in 1903, when it became Poole Engineering & Machine Co. with George Poole as president.
In 1899, the mills in Hampden-Woodberry joined a national conglomerate, the Mount Vernon-Woodberry Mills Cotton Duck Company, which would control 80 percent of the cotton duck manufactured in the U.S. With World War I came a boom time for the mills and the foundry. The army needed tarpaulins, tents, strong cotton twill for uniforms and knapsacks from the mills. Poole & Hunt had already been producing artillery mountings and bases for battleship turret guns. At a county location, it produced ammunition—shells and casing for howitzers. Strikes had started during the war years in response to the owners’ push for longer hours to meet demand. The surpluses and economic downturn after the war led to more strikes, culminating in the textile mill workers’ strike in 1923, the state’s largest. Mill owners offered a 54-hour work week and 7 ½ percent pay increase. Workers wanted a 48-hour work week and a 25 percent pay increase. Management refused to recognize the United Textile Workers nor to meet with a committee formed by the mayor. Instead, the company evicted labor leaders living in company-owned housing and in two years began selling some of the mills and the housing. Mill operations began moving to the South.
In 1924 or 1925, the Frank G. Shenuit Rubber Company purchased the Woodberry Mill. Around 1940, the old 1843 stone mill was surrounded be a new larger masonry building with a distinctive masonry smokestack spelling out SCHENUIT in contrasting brick. About the same time as the Woodberry Mill sale, BesCone, an ice cream cone manufacturer, moved into the old Park Mill, followed later by Commercial Envelope.
The Poole Foundry & Machine Company meanwhile began to struggle. As technology continued to evolve, its products became obsolete. After a failed effort to enter the refrigerator market in the 1920s, the company emerged from bankruptcy and in the 1930s the Poole & Hunt complex was sold to Balmar Corporation. The 1936 City Directory described Balmar as “Foundry, manufacturers of semi-steel, alloy iron and general machine work” located at 3500 Clipper Road. The Poole Foundry and Machine Company was listed at the same address in 1936, but by 1940 its address was 1700 Union Avenue, just across the street from Meadow Mill. It remained there manufacturing flexible couplings and gears until about 1970.
Meadow Mill, which had been out of production since 1940, became a synthetic textile plant in 1948, resulting in having almost all of its windows sealed. In 1960, it was sold to Londontown Manufacturing Company, for the manufacture of London Fog raincoats. It was redeveloped as the current mixed-use building in 1990 by Himmelrich Associates. Five years later, the Machine Shop of the former Poole & Hunt works was destroyed by fire, killing fire fighter Eric Schaefer in the building collapse. Out of that tragedy rose the new Clipper Mill, a combination of new construction and adaptive re-use of the multiple historic buildings on the old Poole & Hunt site, under developers Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse.
Historic Residential Structures
Woodberry’s historic residential building types include the mansion house, early stone and masonry duplexes, rowhouses and free-standing houses.
One example of what is likely an early 19th century mansion house survives, a 2-1/2-story, 5-bay side-gabled building with twin interior end chimneys. Sited on the edge of a slight rise in the terrain, this much-altered house is now part of the Alice Manor nursing home on Rockrose Avenue. It was the home of Reuben Gladfelter, the Hooper Company architect, in the mid to late 19th century.
Built in the 1840s, the stone houses on Clipper Road north of Union Street were company-built worker housing for the Woodberry Mill directly to the west across the rail line. Eleven stone houses line the west side of Clipper Road (formerly Railroad Avenue), plus one—the supervisors’ house—at the north end. With the exception of one building which appears to be three dwellings, the rest are duplexes. Built of semi-coursed gneiss stone quarried nearby, many of the houses have rough quoins, stone lintels or sills, and brick chimneys. On the west side, the first four pairs are two-story plus basement, with gable ends, set back and with stone retaining walls. North of Druid Park Drive are five more duplexes plus the triple on the west side of three types—2-story gable front, 2-story gable end, and 2-story plus attic gable end. While almost all the stylistic inspiration for these houses is Gothic Revival, the former supervisor’s house at the north end of Clipper Road displays Italianate design details. On the east side of Clipper Road above Union Avenue, until May of 2019, there were three one-room deep stone houses with facades facing the mill. The southernmost two were demolished.
At the southeast corner of the district, one stone duplex and ten brick duplexes exist in Brick Hill. Dating to the time of the establishment of the Poole & Hunt Union Works in the mid-19th century, the houses are gable front, 4-bay, with shared hipped-roof front porches on stone foundations, some retaining sawn vergeboard trim at the front roof edge. Two rooms deep, they have side entrances and rear additions. A 1 ½-story gable front frame house dating to the late 19th or early 20th century joins the duplexes along with a 20th century frame cottage.
The rowhouse is the predominant type in the district, making its first appearance in the last quarter of the 19th century. The style prevailed until the 1950s. Most of the district’s 19th century rowhouses are in the central part along Rockrose, Girard and Hooper Avenues and sections of Druid Park Drive. A few 19th century rowhouses can also be found in the western section of the district on Malden Avenue. They are 2- to 3-stories, and 2- or 3-bays, of brick or wood frame. Most have cornices and brackets. The first decades of the 20th century saw additional rowhouses appearing in the western section from 1900 until World War I. These are 2-stories and 2-bays, constructed of brick with flat roofs, large arched windows at the first floors and a bay window at the second floor. The west end of Druid Park Drive along with Keystone and Malden Avenues contain this period of rowhouse. Daylight rowhouses made their appearance in the 1920s in the central and western parts of the district. With two stories and two bays, they are brick with front porches and small front yards and topped by distinctive mansard roofs made of metal to simulate barrel tiles. These houses can be found on Malden, Parkdale and Keystone Avenues. The years leading up to and following World War II saw very simple rowhouse designs emerging. Built of brick, some with mansard roofs in asbestos or asphalt shingle with plain cornice lines and window and door surrounds, they were constructed starting in 1940 on Parkdale Avenue and immediately west of the stone church on Druid Park Drive. A row on Girard Avenue is ca. 1950 (Images 13-17).
Almost all the free-standing residences in the district are on Druid Park Drive (formerly Westbury Avenue), built between 1865 and 1900 before the more regular siting of the rowhouses had taken effect. Most are wood frame, 2- 2 ½ stories, side- or front-gabled, with flat or hipped roofs and porches. Many have entrances on the side. Oldest among them is an 1860s house with front and side gables, a central entry and porch across the front. Another is the c. 1867 parsonage near the 41st Street junction on Druid Park Drive, with bay windows on either side of a central portico.
Historic Commercial Structures
Woodberry has few historic commercial structures. The earliest survivor is the village’s first store/post office and social hall where Clipper Road meets Union Street near the railroad tracks. Dating to c. 1850, the masonry building is two stories with a gable roof, and a Palladian window at the gable end. The commercial building at the northwest corner of Hooper and Girard Avenues is five bays with corner entry, flat roof and decorative cornice. It likely dates to the 1870s. A building at the northwest corner of Parkdale Avenue and Druid Park Drive is a 3-story front gable, with a 20th century addition on the Parkdale front. In 1879 this was the location of the Barton Bros. store. 3600 Malden Avenue is the conversion of two units at the end of a 1920s daylight row with the addition of an unremarkable storefront.
Historic Churches and Schools
The district has two churches. Shiloh United Apostolic Church on Druid Park Drive at Clipper Road was constructed in 1867 as the Woodberry Methodist Episcopal Church. Its Gothic Revival stone construction with three-story bell tower is attributed to James Hogg, architect. Its windows with diamond-shaped panes, have limestone hoods and sills, the walls have limestone capped buttresses. An office wing is at the rear. On Girard Avenue, the Woodberry Bible Baptist Church dates to 1930. Built as the Shechinah Temple (a term referring to God’s presence), it was an inter-denominational church. Wood framed and front gabled, it has a small entrance portico and had a bell tower that was altered in the last couple years, removing the original tower and bell and replacing them with a new steeple. About five years ago, the asbestos siding was replaced with new siding.
There are no school structures remaining in the district. The 1889 P.S. No. 58 stood at 2001 Druid Park Drive until it was demolished sometime after 1952. A Gothic Revival two-room board-and-batten school attributed to Thomas & James M. Dixon stood on the north side of Druid Park Drive west of the stone church.
Historic Industrial Structures
What Woodberry lacks in historic commercial structures, it more than makes up for in the number and scale of industrial buildings and mills. Park Mill (1855) along Union Street on the eastern side of the district is “the best preserved ante-bellum mill building in Woodberry” (Zembala, 1995, p. 104). The low long stone building had a tower on its west facade at one time. Where once seine twine and netting were produced, the building continues to house commercial tenants and appears to be in good condition. The same can’t be said about its neighbor directly to the north, the former Schenuit Rubber Co. building, which is missing windows and sections of the roof due to fire damage, one of which was in 2010. Its masonry and concrete block walls hide the surviving stone walls of Gambrill and Carroll’s 1843 Woodberry Factory. Also at the eastern boundary of the district is the 1877 Meadow Mill, which brought industrial design to a new level. Architect Reuben Gladfelter provided William Hooper’s company with a New England-style mill in the Jones Fall valley, notable for its steepled belfry atop a tower and Italianate details.
Central to the district is the collection of six historic buildings and the historic mill race of the Poole & Hunt Foundry and Machine Works on Clipper Park Road. Along the north side from east to west, the buildings are: the Office (1905), the Blacksmith’s Shop/Artisan Building (c. 1856), and the Foundry (c. 1870). Along the south side from east to west are: sections of the Erecting Shop 1/Assembly building (c. 1890), Erecting Shop 2/Tractor Building (c. 1916), and the Wagon House/Stables Building (c. 1890). The mill race is along the south edge of the complex.
On the west side of the district is Hooper & Sons Hooperwood Mill complex. A succession of buildings, including those dating to the mill’s establishment in 1904 and expansion in 1912, cover the expansive site. It was touted as the largest textile mill in the state, producing cotton duck. The site includes stone, masonry and concrete frame factory buildings, and has a number of tenants.
PERIOD OF SIGNIFICANCE
The period of significance for the Woodberry district is 1843 (the year the Woodberry Factory was established) to 1956 (the year Meadow Mill ceased textile production).
BOUNDARIES OF THE DISTRICT
The proposed boundaries of the Woodberry local historic district are generally: the Jones Falls on the east; the southern edges of Meadow Mill and Brick Hill and northern edge of Druid Hill Park on the south; the rear property lines of houses on the west side of Malden Avenue; and Rockrose Avenue on the north, including groups of contributing rowhouses on the north side of Rockrose near Hooper Avenue and including the northernmost property on Clipper Road, the supervisor’s house, and the factory/warehouse just north of the W. 41st Street viaduct (See attachment).
This encompasses about 80 acres of an intact neighborhood of 19th to mid-20th century historic structures on an irregular street grid.
Three National Register-listed districts and one National Register-listed structure are contained within the proposed Woodberry local historic district: Poole & Hunt Company Buildings (1973, 2003); Londontown Manufacturing Company, Inc./Meadow Mill (1973); Brick Hill (1988); and Woodberry (2003).
The proposed local district adds to the combined areas of the National Register listings. First, the proposed boundary adds the triangular parcel of land in the southwest corner of the neighborhood which was home to the Wm. E. Hooper & Sons Hooperwood Cotton Mill beginning in the early 20th century. Some of the buildings there are clearly historic and contributing buildings. Second, so as not to carve out a large hole into the district, the land area containing 2000 W. 41st Street (Fox 45 TV Studios), 2001 W. 41st Street (Sisson Street Automotive) and 2015 W. 41st Street (Chesapeake Press) is included in the local district. This is bounded by Rockrose Avenue on the north, the rear property lines of the stone duplexes along Clipper Road on the east, the rear property lines of the rowhouses on Druid Park Drive on the south and Hooper Avenue on the west. Third, to the east of the light rail tracks, the former Schenuit Rubber Company buildings (north and south of the 41st Street viaduct), the former Park Mill, and 1700 Union Avenue are added. Finally, a few non-contributing buildings just outside the Brick Hill NR boundary on the north are added to the local historic district to fill a gap between Brick Hill and the rest of the local historic district—and not create a hole.