Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Mendes Cohen House, Baltimore, MD

The Mendes Cohen House, Baltimore, MD 1860s?
These two row houses at 825 and 827 North Charles Street offer a good example of houses in Mt. Vernon that are not part of the sober Anglo-Italianate vein. 825 is well known because Mendes Cohen, an important Jewish general, engineer, and philanthropist lived here. It is currently a law office. The architects for this house were Baldwin and Pennington. Since these architects worked on the house, it must have been built in the late 1860s or early 1870s. Both houses have been altered on their first floors, but enough survives to allow a good view of how they originally looked. They, as expected, follow the row house plan. The first floor has an elaborate rococo carved door surround, which is in the same vein as the Backus house. Here swags flare out and descend from the vegetal keystone. The first floor windows may have been segmental arched, since a bit of brick showing from behind the bay window of 827 suggests it. The second and third floor windows are distinguished by elaborate cast iron flat hood moldings with vegetal anthemia on top. Normally, this pattern would be a Greek Revival palmette, but here, like the door, it looks more rococo and free form. The architrave of the cornice is interestingly brick and wood, with the lower two bands expressed in brick. There are windows in the frieze with curved, chamfered corners that have stone insets in the corners. Overall, these homes are interesting examples of the rococo style that was also prominent alongside the Anglo-Italianate.

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