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Then and Now:

Roland Avenue, the Grand Thoroughfare

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Then & Now, Roland Ave.

Then & Now, North

Then & Now, East

Then & Now, South

Then & Now, West

 

 

Looking north up Roland Avenue from the Roland Water Tower, 1913. The houses on the right make up the bulk of Plat 1. The building in the middle of the picture is the Roland Park Woman's Club building at 4500 Roland Avenue. To its left we see an incomplete Plat 2. The boundary between plats 1 and 2 was and still is Long Lane, running behind — i.e., to the left of — the Woman's Club. (In other words, the houses on the immediate west side of Roland Avenue are part of Plat 1.) Just below the Woman's Club is the intersection of Roland Avenue and Cold Spring Lane, the latter truly still a lane at this point. Note that it is narrower than Ridgewood Road, which lies between it and the club. The road descending to the bottom left of the photo is Roland Heights Avenue. Coming east from Falls Road, this now terminates at Evans Chapel Road, though in the early 20th century it continued to the Roland/Cold Spring intersection. Evans Chapel Road itself is just visible at the very bottom left of the shot, just to the right of the lower left houses. It runs north to join the footpath extending from the southern end of Long Lane. (Source: Roberta M. Moudry. 1990. "Gardens, Houses and People: The Planning of Roland Park, Baltimore." Unpublished master of arts thesis, Cornell University, Ithica, N.Y., January.) Click photos for larger images.

 

 

Roland Avenue from Hoes Heights (left) to Lakeside (right). Roland Park's main artery, this grand, tree-lined thoroughfare is one of the neighborhood's defining features. Once a country route called Maryland Avenue, Roland Avenue was greatly widened by the Roland Park Company in the early 1890s. It was designed with a wide median strip upon which were laid the tracks for the Lake Roland Elevated Railway, later the no. 10 streetcar line. The "El" was a major selling point for Roland Park boosters as, without it, new park residents would have been faced with a daunting hour-long horse-and-buggy ride to downtown. Today, Roland Park without Roland Avenue is almost unthinkable. (Source: Bromley map of Baltimore County, 1898.) Click photos for larger images.

     
 
     
   
From South to North
     

Set 1

 

Bird's Eye View:

A rather better idea of this busy intersection can be had from this bird's eye view, taken from one of the upper-floor windows of the apartment building at 909 W. University Parkway. This photo can with confidence be placed to about 1925: the Marianist building absent in the photo on the right is halfway built here (it was completed in 1926). The vantage point of the photographer of the shot at the right is where the truck is on the far left of this picture. Above the upper right arrow may be seen the stately Georgian house demolished in 1962 to make way for the widening of Cold Spring Lane into the highway it is today. Click here for an aerial view of this same scene from the 1938 ACSC series.

Photo: Unknown photographer; Anthony F. Pinto III collection.

 

 

Scene: Roland Avenue, southbound lane, looking north from the intersection of Roland and Somerset Road, which, though blocked by bollards, is coming in from the left. The minor cross street a couple of hundred yards up the road is Cold Spring Lane. A no. 10 or 29 trolley is heading south toward the camera. (Like cars, trolleys drove on the right.) Though not visible in here, just to the photographer's right, the 10 and 29 lines split, the former continuing south through Hampden and the latter turning southeast along University Parkway. The photo is undated, but the existence of Somerset Road puts it in the 1920s; Somerset Road was not extended to University until the early 1920s, previously dead-ending at what is now called Somerset Place. On the other hand, the Marianist building at 4301 Roland Avenue has not yet been started, placing the shot before 1925 or 1926, the latter the year the religious order completed the premises. In the bird's eye view of the same scene at left, the Marianist building is already under construction. (It was demolished in 2009.)

Orig. caption: None.

Date: Unknown but before 1926.

Photographer: Unknown.

Source: Anthony F. Pinto III collection.

 

 

Commentary: In the macro sense, the scene is not all that changed: Roland Avenue is still Roland Avenue. In the micro sense there is, nonetheless, nothing in this modern photo instantly recognizable from the old. The Roland Avenue median strip is now far narrower than in its glory days when it carried the streetcars, and the tracks themselves are of course gone. The avenue's paved thoroughfare is considerably wider than in the old shot. Even bare, the mature trees now hide most of the buildings that gave identity to the historic scene at left. The old side-of-road brick gutter visible at the left of the vintage picture is by the time of this modern photo a distant memory (though these gutters survive on a number of the less-traveled Roland Park area roads).

Date: March 2010.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

     
 
     

Set 2

 

Mapped Scene:

The orphanage largely obscured in the photo at right dominates this map detail. By now (1915), Roland Heights Avenue, bottom left, terminates at Evans Chapel Road, instead of coming up to the Roland/Cold Spring intersection, as it still does in the 1913 photo at the top of this page. The red circle marks the photographer's position.

Map: Bromley, 1915.

 

 

Scene: Roland Avenue, southbound lane, looking south from the 4500 block. The Roland Water Tower is prominent in the distance. Partially hidden by trees and the foreground utility pole is the now demolished St. Mary's Female Orphan Asylum. The comparatively insignificant cross street is Cold Spring Lane; this is what it looked like before its major widening in the early 1960s.

Orig. caption: "The Roland Park Water Tower distributed pure mineral water to local residents during the first quarter of the 19th century. Automobiles shared the Avenue with electric street cars. This was the view looking south from Cold Spring Lane."

Date: November 11, 1932.

Photographer: Hughes Co.

Source: North Baltimore: From Estate to Development.

 

 

Commentary: The scene is certainly recognizable today, though this is in large measure thanks to the water tower. The formerly trolley-track-carrying median strip is far narrower than it once was, and the driving surface of Roland Avenue correspondingly wider (though it must be added that today's lack of utility and trolley lines along the median is an improvement). A minor road in the early photo, Cold Spring Lane is now — to the consternation of many area residents — a major thoroughfare. The caption to the historic photo on the left is slightly off. This is not the view from Cold Spring Lane: it is the view from just south of Kenwood Road toward Cold Spring Lane.

Date: November 2009.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

       
 
         
Set 3

 

Mapped Scene:

The curve in the tracks so obvious in the old photo to the right is plain on this map detail too.

Map: Bromley, 1915.

 

 

Scene: Median strip, Roland Avenue, looking south from a point just north of the intersection of Roland Avenue and Oakdale Road. During the streetcar era, the avenue's median strip was considerably wider than it is now. The lot where soon will sit St. David's church (built 1906) is to the photographer's right.

Orig. caption: "Privet hedge used to hide the tracks, 1903. The width of Roland Avenue is the same today as it was in [Roland Park Co. President Edward H.] Bouton's original plan. It was wetted down yearly with heavy oil brought east from California. There was a center strip, much wider in those days, which was carefully camouflaged by hedges so that the city suburban streetcar which began to operate in 1898 would not be seen." [The streetcar actually started operating in 1893. — Ed.]

Date: 1903.

Photographer: Unknown.

Source: Four Walking Tours.

 

 

Commentary: The vast quantity of foliage visible in the early photo precludes our using buildings as landmarks. However, a review of aerial photos of Roland Park reveals that there is only one place with this combination of cross street and curve. And that place is undoubtedly the intersection of Roland and Oakdale, shown here as it looked in November 2009. The degree of narrowing of the median is readily apparent here. All told, the old median, privet hedges included, must have been over twice the width of the present median.

Date: November 2009.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

       
 
         

Set 4

 

Mapped Scene:

When this 1898 Bromley map was produced, Club Road had not yet been contemplated. There was no cross street between Oakdale and Upland roads. The photographer's position was a few yards south of the present-day intersection of Roland Avenue and Club Road.

Map: Bromley, 1898.

 

 

Scene: Looking south down Roland Avenue. There is only one curve on Roland like this: the intersection with Oakdale Road, which undoubtedly is what this is. As for a date for this photo, we can give a narrow range, even if a date certain is beyond us. The other side of the road — the east side of Roland Avenue — is wholly undeveloped here. From the 1898 Bromley map we know that this block was largely built out by 1898, so this shot dates to well before that time. The trolley was in operation by May 1893, so this shot dates to at least approximately that time. The track-shielding privet hedges have not yet been planted, so this is certainly an early picture. The cross bars on the utility poles are more sophisticated than those shown on the (probably) 1891 photo immediately below (set 5), the new metal spars being for the streetcar power lines. These are not the permanent spars we see in the 1903-dated set 3, above, and, most tellingly, they appear not yet actually to have power lines strung between them (the lines above are electricity lines). In other words, this photo seems slightly to predate the actual initiation of the trolley service. Give all the above, my tentative date is early spring 1893.

Orig. caption: "A view of Roland Avenue in the 1890s. The railroad tracks were located on today's median strip."

Date: Probably early spring 1893.

Photographer: Unknown.

Source: A Place in Our Hearts.

 

 

Commentary: On the other side of the road, the largely tree-bereft field of early spring 1893 (left) has given way to a far more verdant scene. On this side, despite the saplings planted by the Roland Park Co. (foreground, historic photo), oddly enough today the 4700 block of Roland has comparatively few trees. The intersection with Oakdale Road is at the crest of the curve in the distance. Club Road, non-existent in the 1890s, is just behind the modern photographer.

Date: July 2010.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

         
 
         

Set 5

 

Mapped Scene:

To give a sense of the lack of development pre-Roland Park Co., I have here inserted a detail from the 1877 Hopkins map. If my placing of the old picture's photographer is about right, then the photo, we can tell from the map, shows the Warren estate to the left and the eastern tract of the Capron estate to the right. (Capron was a director of the Roland Park Co.)

Map: Hopkins, 1877.

 

 

Scene: It is impossible to place this photo precisely, in view of the fact that there are, by definition, no landmarks. Having said this, given how long, straight and level this section of proto-Roland Avenue is, I am inclined to place the photographer between what are now Club and Upland roads. I am assuming that we are here looking north, there being small shadows behind and to the right of the objects. Looking north on a summer's day in the mid-afternoon would give this effect. The photo is undated. However, we know that this portion of Roland Avenue was completed in May 1892 . Here, the road is clearly not complete, so it cannot be May '92. However, the trees are in leaf, so it cannot be winter 1892 either. My tentative date is late summer 1891.

Orig. caption: "Building Roland Avenue."

Date: Probably 1891.

Photographer: Unknown.

Source: Four Walking Tours.

 

 

Commentary: There are very few places on Roland Avenue as flat and straight as shown on the old scene to the left. The view immediately above is really the only place that fully fits. The photographer is looking northward from a point just south of Upland Road. I believe that the dirt road coming in from the right in the old photo is what will one day be Upland Road. The photo to the left is the only historical photo I know of that shows Roland Avenue before the addition of streetcar tracks down its median strip. The building of the Lake Roland Elevated (LRE) line, which predated the no. 10 and 29 trolley service to Roland Park, was prolonged by bureaucratic battles — all eventually overcome. The line first ran on May 2, 1893, a year after Roland Avenue itself was completed. The LRE started downtown on Guilford Avenue and made its way to Roland Park and Lakeside via Hampden. When the no. 29 line was started in 1908, the LRE's track — by now the no. 10 streetcar line — was connected to it at the intersection of Roland Avenue and University Parkway.

Date: November 2009.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

       
 
         

Set 6

 

Mapped Scene:

On this 1915 map, neither the Roland Park public school nor the Roland Park Country School yet exists in this location (the latter in 1916 still being on the 4600 block of Roland Avenue). The land upon which now sits the RPCS is here still the Dohme "Chestnutwood" estate. The Tuxedo Park section of Deepdene Road is still called Linwood Avenue.

Map: Bromley, 1915.

 

 

Scene: Roland Avenue, looking north from Deepdene, WWI era, before annexation by Baltimore City.The vacant areas to right and left are now occupied by, respectively, (a) the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School and the Gilman School and (b) the Roland Park Country School.

Orig. caption: "Roland Avenue, north of Deepdene, looking north. The photo was taken before the annexation of Roland Park by the City in 1918."

Date: Circa 1916.

Photographer: Alfred Waldeck.

Source: Baltimore County Public Library.

 

 

Commentary: Though overshadowed by the vast hedge immediately to the left, the embankment-retaining wall toward the top of the hill is instantly recognizable. The earliest beginnings of the hedge itself can be seen in the old photo. Though hidden, the Roland Park Country School now occupies the land to the left, while the bare land on the right in the historic picture now houses the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School and, further up the hill, the Gilman School.

Date: November 2009.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

       
 
         
Set 7

 

Mapped Scene:

This detail from Bromley's 1915 map shows St. George's Road in its earlier incarnation as Lehr Road. Modern-day Normandy Place and Lombardy Place occupy the land once intended for the Academy of Visitation (which in fact ended up further north, on the 5700 block of Roland).

Map: Bromley, 1915.

 

 

Scene: Roland Avenue, looking north from just above Northern Parkway, WWI era, before annexation by Baltimore City. The vacant land to right and left is now occupied by the houses making up the lower portion of New North Roland Park/Poplar Hill. The turning to the left is what will one day be called St. George's Road, though which is still called Lehr Road at this point in time.

Orig. caption: "Roland Avenue north of Belvedere Avenue, before the annexation of Roland Park by the City in 1918."

Date: Circa 1916.

Photographer: Alfred Waldeck.

Source: Baltimore County Public Library.

 

 

Commentary: Because there is so much building-obscuring foliage in this modern photo, the scene is in fact remarkably reminiscent of that shown in the earlier photo (which predates most of the development of New North Roland Park). Having said this, the scene in the old photo is not as bereft of development as it may initially seem. The road coming in from the right is the eastern section of St. George's Road, just visible in the old photo too. On the latter, between St. George's and the next road (Melrose), may been seen an ornamental hedge, marking the southern boundary of 5607 Roland Avenue, built in 1895 and still extant today.

Date: June 2009.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

       
 
         
Set 8

 

Mapped Scene:

The map and the photo both date to about the same time, and it is apparent that in 1915-16 there was very little development this far north up Roland Avenue. Despite this, Bellemore seems from the photo to be a fairly high-quality road. The building in the distance is the Norton house, with its prominent driveway (shown as the Duval house on this 1898 map at the top of the page).

Map: Bromley, 1915.

 

 

Scene: Roland Avenue, looking north from just south of Bellemore Road (which is ahead on the left), WWI era, before annexation by Baltimore City. The vacant land to right and left is now occupied by the houses making up the upper portion of New North Roland Park. The turning to the left is the future Bellemore Road. The very visible driveway in the distance is that to the Norton house, formerly the Duval house, just north of the intersection of Roland and Lake avenues.

Orig. caption: "Roland Avenue looking towards Lake Avenue at Bellemore Road."

Date: Circa 1916.

Photographer: Alfred Waldeck.

Source: Baltimore County Public Library.

 

 

Commentary: As with set 6, this modern summer photo shows no buildings visible because of the tree frondescence. This in turn makes the scene appear more similar to that of the old photo than is perhaps really warranted. Buildings, mostly residential, now in fact line both sides of the road, albeit tastefully obscured by trees.

Even though it was not in Roland Park proper, the northern part of Roland Avenue was in the early 20th century widened and landscaped by the Roland Park Co. with a view toward encouraging future high-end development.

Date: June 2009.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

         
 
         

Set 9

 

Mapped Scene:

The 1898 Bromley map shows the photographer's position, standing just east of the trolley tracks and the G. Duval property, looking north toward the upper part of Michael Jenkins' "Woodglen" estate. Jenkins' northern out-buildings can be seen in the photo, beyond the meadow.

Map: Bromley, 1898.

 

 

Scene: Looking north along the Lakeside streetcar tracks from a point about a fifth of a mile north of the Roland and Lake avenues T-junction, where the former used to deadend onto the latter. A century ago, Roland did not extend north of Lake, so the only means of getting to Lakeside was via the trolley, as shown in this 1905 photo. This route eventually become the no. 24 line but, at this early turn-of-the-century stage, it operated as an unnamed "jerkwater" — i.e., minor — extension of the no. 10 line that went from Roland Park to downtown through Hampden. The open land beyond the tracks is a field or meadow of the Jenkins estate, which ultimately became the Boys' Latin school in 1960 upon the latter's relocation from downtown. From 1844 to 1960, the school was housed on Brevard Street. Click here to see the school's gym at the old location in about 1960 and here to see what is there now. (Old photo: Boys' Latin, One Heartbeat; new photo, Mac Kennedy).

Orig. caption: None.

Date: 1905.

Photographer: Unknown.

Source: J. McDonald Kennedy collection.

 

 

 

Commentary: The tracks visible in the historic photo at left were pulled up in early 1950 and Roland Avenue was subsequently extended over the old right-of-way to create a road to the new Elkridge Estates complex. Shown here is what is now the 6000 block of Roland Avenue. The Jenkins meadow of the vintage shot is now the Boys' Latin football field (J. Duncan Smith Field). The brown, shingled building in the distance is a holdover from a century ago: it is visible in the old photo too. The trolley-stop platform prominent in the old picture was about where the Elkridge Estates sign is today.

Date: July 2010.

Photographer: D.P. Munro.

         
 
         

Set 10

 

 

Scene: In this photo, the photographer is standing toward the south end of the Jenkins estate meadow visible beyond the trolley tracks in the set above (set 9). The barn visible in the distance in set 9 can more clearly be see here.

Orig. caption: None.

Date: Circa 1900.

Photographer: Unknown.

Source: J. McDonald Kennedy collection.

 

 

Commentary: The old Jenkins meadow is now the J. Duncan Smith Field. The modern photographer is looking north from a position somewhat to the left (west) of the position of the vintage picture's photographer. In the early photo, a road can be seen running toward the barn, beyond the white fence, on a ridge. The road and lower part of the ridge have gone, but they were once more or less where the yardage lines shown above on the football field are.

Date: 2008.

Photographer: J. McDonald Kennedy.

         
 
         

Set 11

 

 

Scene: Here, the photographer has moved to the (north) top of the meadow, and is looking east by northeast at the west side of the barn. The meadow is to the photographer's left. Note that the portico-style roof over the barn's south entrance — visible in the two previous shots (sets 9 and 10) — is no longer present. It would have been above the doorway at the lower right of this photo.

Orig. caption: None.

Date: Circa 1900-1905.

Photographer: Unknown.

Source: J. McDonald Kennedy collection.

 

 

Commentary: This is how how the barn looks now, just north of J. Duncan Smith’s Field on the Boys' Latin campus. Today it is the campus store and art classroom. It has been extensively remodeled since the days of the Jenkins estate.

Date: 2008.

Photographer: J. McDonald Kennedy.

         
 
         

Set 12

 

Mapped Scene:

Jenkins' "Woodglen" house is clearly shown on the 1898 Bromley map.

Map: Bromley, 1898.

 

 

 

Scene: This is the Jenkins mansion itself, taken in the early 20th century. The photographer is south of the southwest-facing building.

Orig. caption: None.

Date: Circa 1900-1905.

Photographer: Unknown.

Source: J. McDonald Kennedy collection.

 

 

 

Commentary: The old Jenkins house is now the Boys' Latin Upper School main building, Williams Hall. The porch has been demolished and an external vestibule added. An extension has been added on the east (right) side of the building. Though it is not visible here because of the trees, there is also a vast modern extension on the west side. The second-floor bay window has gone, and the house's roof line has been considerably altered.

Date: 2008.

Photographer: J. McDonald Kennedy.

 
 
 

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