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Historic districts in Hagerstown

Historic districts in Hagerstown

When you're out and about this fall, take a driving tour through some of Hagerstown's historical and architecturally beautiful districts. First on the list is...
Oak Hill Historic District
This district is an early-to-mid 20th century residential neighborhood. Historically, the district is associated with a period, 1900-1941, in which Hagerstown experienced industrial and population growths unprecedented in the city's history.
The district is also important for its association with persons significant in local history. Oak Hill was home to many, if not to most, of the city's industrial, commercial, social and cultural leaders of this period. The Oak Hill addition to Hagerstown was laid out in 1909 for Mrs. Clara Hamilton, the widow of William T. Hamilton, Governor of Maryland (1880-1884). The properties were sold by the Hamiltons' with covenants in the deeds affecting type, use, cost, siting and settings of buildings. Only residential structures were allowed. The minimum cost of a house was designated at $2,500. Objectionable and unsightly outbuildings were forbidden.
Mrs. Hamilton also retained rights to the trees lining the streets. Architecturally, the houses in the district represent examples of the major architectural styles popular for residential construction in the first third of the 20th century. The houses are generally Colonial or Georgian Revival in stylistic influences although excellent examples of Spanish and Tudor Revival, Foursquare, Queen Anne, Dutch Colonial Revival, and Arts and Crafts Bungalow are present. The buildings include some of the finest examples of these styles found in Hagerstown and collectively exhibit a range of architectural expression, craftsmanship and technique of the period. From the point of community planning, the Oak Hill area is important as the first and only significant section of Hagerstown to be developed along the lines of the garden city movement that began in the country in the mid 19th century. The district is characterized by large lots, open spaces, deep set-backs, curving streets and tree-lined boulevards.
The Downtown Historic District
Downtown is significant for its portrayal of the economic growth and development of the city, and for its architecture as a showcase of late 19th and early 20th century commercial styles. Historically, during the late 19th century, Hagerstown became a leading manufacturing city and a rail center in Maryland. This resulted in a great population growth and a commercial boom period that occurred between 1880 and 1920. This economic boom is reflected in the almost total redevelopment and transformation of the downtown commercial area during that period. Large hotels catering to rail and automobile travelers were built and commercial establishments were either remodeled or newly built to reflect the prosperity. Nearly all of the buildings are representative of popular commercial styles of the turn of the century. The favored architectural expression was the Italianate style consisting of two and three story buildings with prominent bracketed cornices; elaborate Baroque and Neoclassical forms associated with the Beaux Arts style; and a very simple early 20th century commercial style featuring strongly rectilinear forms. Pivotal buildings in the district are the Washington County Court House and the Hagerstown City Hall, which helped to establish the direction of commercial growth along West Washington and North Potomac Streets.
Significant historic resources in the district include the Maryland Theatre, First Hose Fire Company, Colonial Theater, Masonic Temple, Barnwood Books Building, St. John's Lutheran Church, Kohler Building, Baldwin House, Routzahn's Department Store Building, Delta Building, the Courthouse, the Miller House, Kneisley Building, the Old Library, the Roslyn, 119 N. Potomac Street, the Pioneer Hook & Ladder Firehouse, the Knights of Pythias Castle, the Post Office, Grunnell Building, Wolf Building, and Thomas Building.
The Potomac-Broadway Historic District
This beautiful district consists largely of a late 19th and early 20th century residential area with most buildings dating from 1870-1930. Major architectural styles found in the district are Second Empire, High Victorian Gothic, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and American Foursquare. The district contains large prestigious mansions, slightly smaller scale single-family houses, more modest houses and duplexes, apartments, and urban townhouses. The townhouses contain both commercial and residential uses. The mansions on the west side of North Potomac Street and Oak Hill Avenue are set well back from the street by tree-shaded front lawns. The homes on the east side of North Potomac Street and Oak Hill Avenue and on Broadway and E. North Avenue contain smaller front yards than those of the mansions. The townhouses on lower Potomac Street and on North Locust Street are set against the sidewalk. Together these buildings and settings portray the growth and development of Hagerstown from the late 19th century through its major commercial/industrial boom period from about 1880 to the 1930's. The 400 block of North Potomac Street and 600 block of Oak Hill Avenue contained the homes of Hagerstown's business leaders who either created or rode the tide of the economic boom to great prosperity. The district was also home to insurance brokers, jewelers and executives with numerous manufacturing companies and banking establishments. Many salesmen, clerks, mid-level executives and craftsmen lived on Broadway and North Avenue. The district is located between the Oak Hill and Downtown Historic Districts.
South Prospect Street
South Prospect Street is a 19th and early 20th century residential neighborhood located along the crest of a hill. The street stretches for three blocks and is lined with more than fifty structures representing America's varied and strong architectural heritage. The buildings line a tree-shaded avenue and express a uniformity of quality and scale which ties South Prospect Street into an important urban streetscape. Although many of the buildings have been adapted for purposes other than the original uses and some have undergone renovations, most of the structures and the street as a whole still retain the environmental quality characteristic of the area in the early 1900's. It is the variety of architectural styles that gives South Prospect Street its strongest and most significant character. The styles represented include Neoclassical, Classical Revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne. The only non-domestic buildings are the St. John's Episcopal Church and the First Presbyterian Church. Both churches were erected in the early 1870's and are Gothic Revival stone structures. South Prospect Street is said to have been opened in 1832 by William D. Bell who widened a small alley into the present street. Antietam Street is spanned by a bridge, known locally as the "dry bridge," with an ornamental metal railing and a flight of masonry steps leading down to the lower street. The bridge was rebuilt in the summer of 1976. The railing appears to date from the early 1900's and bears the name "B.F. Null and Son, Hagerstown." Although the street has been paved in recent years, many of the early brick sidewalks still remain.

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