232 West Lanvale has a neat appearance that belies its age as the oldest house in Bolton Hill. Amazingly, it reportedly looks almost exactly the same today as it did when built in 1848. Originally part of a group of three Italianate houses facing towards downtown Baltimore, the home offered a country retreat to early northwest Baltimore residents. The owners added the bay window on Bolton Street 25 years after the house was built, salvaged from Charles Howard's mansion (where Francis Scott Key died) after the building was torn down to make way for the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church. One of the longest residents in the house, Dr. William Henry Howell, rented the home for forty years as he taught medicine at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Howell is best remembered for his discovery of the anti-coagulant heparin.
By the 1960s, the charming cottage had attracted its own literary community, including Maryland poet and scholar William F. Stead, who died there in 1967 at the age of 82. Stead was a friend of T.S. Eliot, William Yeats, and many other British poets thanks to decades spent living in England. His host at the home was Mrs. Edward C. Venable (nee Nancy Howard De Ford), a Maryland native, descendant of both John Eager Howard and Francis Scott Key, and a published poet and author. She married her husband, himself a well-known writer, in 1924 and the pair spent every summer in France returning to Lanvale Street in the fall. Among Mrs. Venable's friends was Tennessee Williams, who patterned one of his stage heroines after her: Violet Venable in Suddenly Last Summer.