|9-13 E Read St. Baltimore, MD. Late 1860s?|
The row has a first floor defined by a thick cornice. The doors are particularly striking to me, being deeply inset into the facade with their pilasters of rusticated stone, a feature that is definitely uncommon in the US, but very English. The low basement and stoop under the first floor and the lowered height of the entrance are in fact termed an "English basement". One of the houses has a classical entrance portico that appears to be old, while the others do not; it might have been that all of them once had porticoes, but since the moldings on the others look quite original, I am guessing the owner of this house might have wanted one. The second floor windows are much larger than the first, almost double the height, making the second floor a piano-nobile, giving it the appearance of the principal floor, another very European aspect. The alternating round and triangular pediments over the second and third floor windows are a particular feature of Renaissance and especially Palladian architecture. The second floor windows have small Greek Revival iron grills inset into the frame. The fourth floor windows are plain and much smaller than the others; an odd feature is that the second and third floor windows have a wide space between them while the third and fourth floor windows are almost crammed together. Perhaps this indicates the presence of some lost architectural feature. The cornice, as we expect in Anglo-Italianate, is simple with thickly spaced brackets. I do wonder if the houses were originally stuccoed; if they were, then the row would have looked even more English. The effect of the high-style design is one of elegance and European taste, a sentiment that would have been at home among Baltimore and Mt. Vernon's wealthy residents. If anyone has information about this row please send it to me! It certainly deserves to be better documented than it is.