West Baltimore Squares

By Baltimore Heritage

Walk through West Baltimore neighborhoods and take in a few of the city's most exceptional rowhouses and religious buildings across a landscape defined also by segregation and urban renewal.

Locations for Tour

1. Lafayette Square

Since 1857, Lafayette Square has been Baltimore’s height of fashion. Situated atop a ridge in an area once noted for its fine country villas and breadth-taking panoramic views of the waterways, rolling hills and public landmarks of the bustling…

2. Sellers Mansion

Built in 1868, the Sellers Mansion (801 North Arlington Street) is a three-story Second Empire brick house with a mansard roof that rivaled its outer suburban contemporaries in size, quality of craftsmanship, and attention to detail. Its carved stone…

3. Upton

High on a hill at 811 West Lanvale Street, behind a chain link fence and past the overgrown yard, is the grand Upton – an architectural treasure by one of Baltimore's earliest architects that has witnessed nearly 200 years of change in the…

4. Harlem Park

Harlem Park started as one of the largest squares in West Baltimore, 9 ¾ acres, more than double the size of Franklin, Lafayette, or Union Square. The grounds of the park and much of the land around it had originally belonged to Dr. Thomas…

5. Harlem Theatre

The Harlem Park Theatre was originally built as a church for a congregation that had outgrown the size of their existing building. Construction on this Romanesque-style building on Gilmore Street began in the summer of 1902. The building had a Port…

6. Perkins Square

As early as the 1840s, a small oasis of green known as Perkins' Spring became a popular destination at the edge of the rapidly growing city. The park's unique value to local residents came from the fresh-water spring that poured out at a…

7. Franklin Square

Franklin Square Park is one of the oldest parks in the city, with its origins in the estate of Dr. James McHenry, who lived at a home known as Fayetteville located near Baltimore and Fremont Streets in the early 1800s. Born in Ireland, James McHenry…

8. Waverly Terrace

Named after Sir Walter Scott's 1814 novel Waverly, Waverly Terrace reflects the wealth of Franklin Square’s residents in the 1850s. The Baltimore Sun praised architect Thomas Dixon’s four-story row as "much handsomer than any yet…

9. Edgar Allan Poe House

For Edgar Allan Poe, the author perhaps most famous for his poem “The Raven,” time spent in Baltimore defines both the beginning and end of his life. Born in Boston, Poe made his first trip to Baltimore in 1808, at just five weeks old, to visit…

10. Union Square

Union Square began as part of Willowbrook, the John Donnell Federal-period estate, which he purchased in 1802 from Baltimore merchant and later Mayor Thorowgood Smith. In 1847, the Donnell family heirs donated the 2.5-acre lot in front of the manor…

11. H.L. Mencken House

"As much a part of me as my own two hands," is how Henry Louis Mencken described his house at 1524 Hollins Street and his personality can be seen in everything from the parquet floors to the garden tiles. In 1880, Mencken was brought by his…