City and State: Baltimore, Maryland
Type of district: National Register Historic District
Major Intersection: Charles and Mulberry Streets
Cathedral Hill, located between the 200 and 500 blocks of North Charles Street, is home to several important religious buildings that date to the 19th century. It is named for the first Roman Catholic cathedral erected in the United States – the Basilica of the Assumption, designed by Benjamin Latrobe. Also located in the Cathedral Hill district are the First Unitarian Church – the first structure built in America for a Unitarian group, the Franklin Street Presbyterian Church, and Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church – designed by Richard Upjohn and the oldest Episcopal parish in Baltimore. These buildings and their high-quality designs gave rise to a prestigious residential neighborhood that developed in the blocks around them in the mid-to-late1800s.
The strongest influence on the district since its founding was the Baltimore Fire of 1904. It burned much of Baltimore City but did not reach above the 100 block of North Charles Street, and so did not touch Cathedral Hill. In the aftermath of the fire, the Cathedral Hill area, which was adjacent to the ruined section of the City, as well as the harbor and local government offices with wealthy residents and growing commercial interests, was a desirable area for businesses and offices to relocate to temporarily. Many never moved back. They built new buildings in the district using elements and features of several historical periods and styles of architecture.
By 1915, the Cathedral Hill section of North Charles Street was at the peak of its commercialization. The area had become known as a wealthy shopper’s paradise, and was often compared to the shopping districts of Fifth Avenue in New York City and Bond Street in London.