This is a past tour--for information only
Sunday, May 21, 2023 – 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Federal Hill has played an important role in the development of industry and commerce and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods dating back to the 18th century when it was the center of the city’s bustling maritime port, hub of industrial growth, and destination to hundreds of thousands of immigrants. The neighborhood retains remarkably intact streets of largely residential properties reflecting the eras in which they were built and the economic status of their early residents. Architectural details include early examples of Flemish bond brick construction with gabled roofs and dormers, simple Greek revival row houses, small front gardens, stained glass, bracketed cornices and iron fencing.
Today, Federal Hill’s popular brick row homes and numerous locally-owned shops and restaurants are home to both newcomers and families that have lived here for generations. A central landmark of the neighborhood is Federal Hill Park, located in the northeast corner of the neighborhood, which offers breathtaking views of the City of Baltimore. In May of 1788, approximately 4,000 Baltimoreans gathered in what is now known as Federal Hill Park to celebrate Maryland’s ratification of the U. S. Constitution. The celebration included a 15' model of a fully-rigged sailing ship named the “Federalist,” which was sailed out into the Harbor at the conclusion of the event—hence, the origin of the park’s name. During the War of 1812, many early settlers of Federal Hill fought to defend Baltimore from British attack. In 1861, Union and Confederate sympathizers rioted on the hill. Throughout the neighborhood, there are a variety of unique attractions for visitors to experience.
The Cross Street Market incorporates dining and mixed vendors in a renovated, historic building. The American Visionary Art Museum offers unique, one-of-a-kind art displays, while the Baltimore Museum of Industry celebrates the long history of Baltimore as an industrial powerhouse. The museum highlights how our community evolved as wooden sails and hulls were replaced by iron hulled steamers and engines. Glass making, canning, packing, fertilizer production, brewing, baking and paint manufacturing all thrived in Federal Hill over the years, often owned by European immigrants. African Americans have also made their homes throughout Federal Hill since before the Civil War. Today, Federal Hill is recognized as a popular urban neighborhood bordering the Inner Harbor, a great place to live, shop and dine.
Sheri Hunt and Cathy Rosenbaum
Planning Committee: Cindy Conklin, Carlisle Hashim, Pauline Hildebrandt, Ivo Jamrosz, Fran Landolf, Celine Plachez, Kathleen Robinson.
Floral arrangements provided by: Amateur Gardeners’ Club, Baltimore Florist, Flowers & Fancies, Guilford Garden Club, Hardy Garden Club, Lake Hills Garden Club, Local Color Flowers, St. George’s Garden Club, and Woman’s Club of Roland Park.
Special Project: Federal Hill Park is a focal point of Federal Hill and stands as a signature landmark of Baltimore. It served as a defensive stronghold during the War of 1812 and was again converted for military use during the Civil War. Beneath the park, a network of underground caves and tunnels were discovered in 1992. These caves and tunnels were used to extract sand and clay for the glassmaking industry as well as for cold storage for a Baltimore brewery. The mystery of the tunnels has always been an interest to those that visit Federal Hill. Proceeds from the Federal Hill Tour will be used to design, purchase and install a display case that will show diagrams of the network of underground caves and tunnels and share the history and purpose of the tunnels. Robert Baker Park is a much smaller and hidden park situated at the corner of Light Street and Key Highway in Federal Hill and has been called the “Gateway to Federal Hill.” Additional tour proceeds will be used to design and install a plaque detailing the history of Robert Baker Park.
Most of the houses on Montgomery Street were built in the 1850s. Several of these properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as part of the Federal Hill National Historic District, and are registered with the Preservation Society.
#1. Montgomery Street
Montgomery Street running to the west of Federal Hill is the widest street in the neighborhood and closest south of the Inner Harbor. Built in 1825, this Georgian brick home has an inviting entryway, a black lacquered six-over-six pane Dutch door framed in white with a glass transom. A ribbon of lovely grillwork outlines the six-over-six double windows dressed in matching wooden louvered shutters. This three-story structure is home to a family who has continuously served our City of Baltimore and State of Maryland. This home is prominently located on Montgomery Street where tradesmen in the Baltimore shipbuilding industry once lived. Federal Hill homes in this designated Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) area were built with fireplaces in every room before central heating systems came into existence at the turn of the 20th century. Its warm interior holds a collection of historical American presidential documents dating back to the Civil War. The arched brick window looking north to the Maryland Science Center mirrors the arch brickwork at the front of the house leading to the ground floor. The outdoor courtyard is laid in herringbone brick pattern. Three steps below, an intimate garden of lavender crepe myrtle, summer blooming hibiscus and a star shaped medallion of boxwood where we can envision our forefathers sipping tea and celebrating their independence from the British after the nearby Battle of Fort McHenry.
#2. William Street
This large, bright, attractive home is situated in the historical part of Federal Hill. It was built in the 1840s, and served as the parsonage of the Light Street Presbyterian Church for over 100 years. An extensive renovation was done in 1976. The front wall was dismantled and rebuilt with the original brick. The interior was gutted, and a new three-story addition was constructed. You will appreciate the large rooms and the high ceilings as well as the beautiful wood floors throughout the house. The majority of the floors and woodwork are original to the house. Three of the four fireplaces are surrounded by mantels from demolished houses in nearby old Camden and Otterbein. Every level of this home has a deck, including a roof-top deck with panoramic views of the city. However, the most incredible deck is the one off the first floor, it’s charming and cozy and just perfect for parties with friends and family. The current owner bought this house very recently (2020).
#3. E. Montgomery Street
This Federal Hill home has quite a story to tell: taxes were being paid on an unidentified structure (maybe a shed, stables or barn) on this site as early as 1797-98. The original house, consisting of the current dining room, kitchen, upstairs den and back bedroom, were built in the early 1820s. Between 1840 and 1860, the back upstairs and downstairs rooms were added (currently the extended kitchen and upstairs walk-in closet and laundry room). The house used to have a front yard as did #215, similar to the front yards of the first five houses on the block. However, that yard disappeared after 1860 when the living room and upstairs front bedroom were built. Notice the distinctive curving staircase and complementary curving living room wall made with the original horsehair plaster. The upstairs rear side porch, which you will see when you go to the courtyard, is an unusual feature for an urban row home. The artwork of both nationally known and locally known artists is on display throughout this home. The owner, a board member for twenty years of Baltimore Center Stage, has decorated the downstairs bathroom walls with costume renderings from past dramatic performances. The courtyard is a secret garden which becomes an additional room to the house in all but the worst of weather.
#4. E. Montgomery Street
This home sits on a block of Montgomery Street lined with two and three-story houses, just below Federal Hill Park. Its beautiful porch invites you for relaxing evenings, admiring the beautiful front garden. The owners have lived here since 1997, and have enjoyed living in such a wonderful part of the city, very close to the Inner Harbor. Their house was built prior to 1870 and renovated in the late 1970s. As you enter, please note the beautiful wood floors and the stairway with a black walnut banister and curly maple spindles which were rescued from a now demolished house nearby. The recently renovated kitchen welcomes incredible light throughout the day due to the magnificent floor to ceiling windows. The well-maintained garden in the back is adjacent to the newly renovated two-story garage with a guest suite above it. This property is quite unusual in length as the front of the house is on Montgomery Street while the garage is located on Churchill Street.
#5. Montgomery Street
This three-story house was originally built in the late 1800s. It is just steps away from Federal Hill Park with magnificent views of the Inner Harbor that can be seen from every level of the house all day and evening. The home has a contemporary decor, including a modern style staircase, kitchen, skylight and large rear windows. Current owners bought the house ten years ago and renovated all three bathrooms, opened up the kitchen, renovated view-facing windows on all floors, and added a first floor deck off the back. During the renovations they worked with Marty Marren, architect, and Greenleaf Construction. Interior design was done by Marci Lief. The owners love living on this block and enjoy their frequent stoop sits to visit with their lovely neighbors.
#6. Warren Avenue
This home is a beautiful and large condominium located across from Federal Hill Park. The actual building was originally constructed in the early 1900s by George F. Jones. Before being converted into condominiums in 1988 (twelve units total), it served as Shofer’s furniture warehouse. The current owners bought this condominium thirty years ago and undertook extensive renovations from 2016 to 2018. The layout, situated all on one level, incorporates separate living, dining and kitchen areas that complement each other architecturally. The detailed crown moldings and inlaid wooden floors bring a richness to this beautiful home.
#7. William Street
Built in the early 1900s, this home has a unique mosaic glass front door created by local artist, Loring Cornish, whose glittery mosaic installations can be found around the city and whose work has been featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The home has everything modern Federal Hill homeowners want including private parking, contemporary architecture with historic elements such as exposed brick, wood trim, high ceilings, and a rooftop deck. The current owners bought this house in 2016. They love living so close to everything this neighborhood has to offer and often enjoy relaxing evenings on their rooftop deck with beautiful views of Charm City.
#8. Warren Avenue
This home sits on a fabulous block for shopping and services, and yet a quiet street with great neighbors. It is only two blocks away from Federal Hill Park, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city. The house was originally built between 1850 and 1860 as a two and one-half-story house but then later became a three-story house. The current residents have owned this house since 1997. Prior to that, the house was a bed and breakfast managed by a Slovenian immigrant. In 2016, working closely with architect Marty Marren, the owners decided to fully renovate their home. This extensive renovation took an entire year, and the house was inhabitable during that time. The only remaining parts of the original house are the two metal doors at sidewalk level on the east side, that were used as coal chutes in the past, and the exterior brick wall. This house incorporates unique and modern features including a large gourmet kitchen, a home theater for movie nights on the second floor, in-ceiling speakers on each floor, and an elevator. A second kitchen was also installed in the basement. The lovely garden sitting over the garage provides a bountiful harvest of vegetables all summer.
#9. Warren Avenue
This home is located near the southeast corner of Federal Hill Park. This two-story home, wider than most in the neighborhood, is constructed of two layers of brick. The interior layer of brick is softer than the exterior layer which was kilned closer to the heat source. The double entry doors, framed in a classic brick arch pattern, open to showcase a home filled with light and texture. Of particular note are the light fixtures. The front parlor is lit by five hanging pendant spheres. The dining room is lit with a crater design drop light fixture reminiscent of space, a theme reinforced with five silver orbs positioned near the dining room pocket doors to create the ambiance of a celestial galaxy. The kitchen features a floor-to-ceiling brick wall in an unusual pattern that complements the rich tones of the warm pine floors throughout the house. This home is filled with engaging original artwork that both complements the architecture and decor, and simultaneously makes a statement. On the second floor, the owner’s work area is filled with musical instruments and amazing panoramic views of the Inner Harbor from atop Federal Hill.
#10. Warren Avenue
Historical documents establish that this house was only one room deep when it was originally constructed in 1840, and multiple extensions have been added over the years. The exterior of the home is welcoming with the brick bordered flower beds and the iron sculpture of an eagle prominently displayed at ground level. The current owners have been living in this house for 40 years and have completed four major renovations over the years. Both the third floor and the kitchen were renovated twice. One of the unique characteristics of this home is the spiral staircase located near the front window that goes up to the second floor. The house has an elevator and a wine closet. The length of this property is unique as the front is located on Warren Street and the rear goes all the way to Churchill Street, where the garage is located. The garage on the back appeared to be an auto repair shop at some point. The large backyard and brick patio provide a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.