Monday, February 6, 2012

Parlors from Waterloo Row 1817, Baltimore, Maryland

Front parlor

One of my favorite period rooms at the Baltimore museum of art is the first floor plan from one of the 12 Wateterloo Row houses built in 1817-1818 in Baltimore. The Federal style row homes were built by America’s first native-born architect Robert Mills who won the architectural competition for Baltimore’s Washington monument and latter designed the Washington Monument in D.C. In 1815 Mills moved to Baltimore from Philadelphia where he was working with Benjamin H. Latrobe.


Photo of Waterloo Row at North Calvert Street in Baltimore Maryland. Nice view of the street with houses and old cars in view. Part of an old Pepsi billboard ad can also be seen. Photo dates to 1936.

Mills was familiar with Baltimore because he had worked with Latrobe as clerk of works on the new Catholic Cathedral designed by Latrobe. Between 1815 and 1820 Robert Mills became one of Baltimore’s most sought after architects. Unfortunately the Washington Monument is the only surviving architecture in Baltimore by Mills.

Of his many domestic buildings he designed in Baltimore only a row of 10 houses out of a original 12 overlooking his Washington Monument was still standing in 1970. The ten that was left was demolished in the name of urban-renewal.

Front Facades

The Baltimore Museum of art received a bequest of early 19th century furniture used and made in Baltimore in one of the homes as well as architectural items from the row houses to recreate a first-floor plan of one of the Classical homes of Waterloo Row. Including entrance doorway, woodwork. Plasterwork, King of

Prussia marble mantels to recreate the double parlors, entrance hall and stair hall in the Baltimore Museum of art.

Out of the ten building not one house had all of its original Classical/Federal architectural elements intact at the time of the 1970 demolition. To reconstruct a period 1817 interior original material had to be taken from several remaining houses.

Stair Hall

Robert Mills was born in South Carolina in 1781, during his early career Mills studied with James Hoban who designed the White House, Thomas Jefferson and Latrobe. From theses architects he learned Irish and English late Georgian style. The Classical Revival styles as interpreted by English Palladians, Kent and Burlington. But his greatest influence was working with Latrobe in the new Greek Style.

The 12 townhouses of Waterloo Row were speculative real estate with Robert Mills as one of the investors. The foundations for Waterloo row and there servants wings were probably laid in early spring 1817 the houses were completed by autumn of 1818. Each house was priced at $8,000. Making them the most expensive homes in Baltimore for the time. The beautiful and well built homes failed to sell to effluent Baltimoreans because they were considered too distant from downtown at only being about 5 blocks away from the heart of the city.

The name Waterloo refers to Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815 but as well as the losses incurred by the speculative builders. The investors also had a hard time renting out the newly built homes.

Elaborate plaster ceiling medallion

The homes were three and a half stories in height over a basement level. The entrance doorway was approached by a flight of six white marble steps with ornamental iron railings set parallel to the facades. The front double doors were flanked by sidelights and topped by high and broad fanlights.


  1. Who would not love it. I could have lived very happily in a row house like this and could now. There are some simular in New Orleans, different period ,of course. I would love anything in these pictures. Richard from My Old Historic House.

  2. Oh my goodness! I scrolled through this three times! How beautiful!
    Thank you, again for the lesson, as well.
    Hoping you are well....


  3. Thank you! My 3rd great grandfather, John Barker, lived at 12 Waterloo Row from 1836-47, according to the Baltimore directories. He owned an iron foundry in Baltimore. What a treat to see how he might have lived!