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Walters Art Museum

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Walters Art Gallery
1905–1907, Delano and Aldrich. 600 N. Charles St.

Built between 1905 and 1907, the Walters Art Museum is one of the architectural and cultural anchors of the Mount Vernon Place neighborhood of Baltimore. It is the legacy of philanthropist Henry Walters and his son William T. Walters, developed from their extensive personal collections of art and artifacts from around the globe. The origins of the museum date to 1874 when the elder Walters opened his house at 5 West Mount Vernon Place for public viewing on selected days. He installed paintings in the space over a rear stable building in the 1870s and in 1883–1884 expanded to create a new gallery on the lot behind his residence. In 1905 Walters finally hired Delano and Aldrich to design a purpose-built structure to hold the burgeoning collection. In the tradition of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the gallery is a Renaissance Revival palazzo that rises from a battered stone ground level to form rusticated granite-block walls topped by ashlar, limestone masonry. The windows are either blind or covered by iron grilles, or both, which contributes to the solid (or sealed) aura of the structure.

The contractor was J.C. Vreeland Building Company of New York. L. Marcotte and Company, also of New York, was responsible for designing the four period rooms on the north side of the court at the ground floor level (Gothic, Francis I, Louis XIV, Louis XVI), along with Durand et Compagnie of Paris who created the reproduction furnishings for these period rooms. The museum opened to the public in early February 1909, and upon his death in 1931, Henry Walters bequeathed his house, museum building, and collection to the City of Baltimore.

References

Dilts, James D., and John Dorsey. A Guide to Baltimore Architecture. 3rd ed. Centreville, MD: Tidewater Publishers, 1997.

Price, Virginia. “The Walters Art Museum,” HABS No. MD-1209, Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, 2005. Prints and Photograph Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Catherine C. Lavoie
Coordinator: 
Lisa P. Davidson
Catherine C. Lavoie
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Data

Timeline

  • 1905

    built

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Citation

Catherine C. Lavoie, "Walters Art Museum", [Baltimore, Maryland], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MD-01-510-0002-02.

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