Over 122 years ago, a group of enterprising Baltimoreans formed The City and Suburban Realty and Investment Company with the goal of creating the Normandy Heights suburban development modeled after nearby Roland Park. Land parcels were consolidated and house plans were purchased from George Franklin Barber, “an American architect best known for his residential designs, which he marketed worldwide through a series of mail order catalogs”.
Along a stretch of Roland Ave, between Lake Ave and Northern Parkway, eight lots were platted and designated as a “visible presence for the development, a model of what the company intended to achieve”. Historians have confirmed that the lot on the south side of Melrose Ave, now 5607 Roland Ave, received plan 7, which was published in George F. Barber’s book Modern Dwellings in 1898 and sold for $125.00
As can sometimes be the case, The City and Suburban Realty Company ran into financial trouble very quickly, likely due to undercapitalization. Builders and suppliers went unpaid, liens were placed, and the company was sued for non-payment. By 1899 the company went into receivership. Our subject property, the house at 5607 Roland Ave, was finally sold in July 1901 to Lydia Hamill, wife of Robert J.W. Hamill, who by 1905 was listed in Baltimore City directories as the vice-president of the Roland Park Company.
George F. Barber architectural plans were used for houses in all 50 states. They “have provided inspirations for Christmas cards and at least one dollhouse model”. For today’s prospective buyer, that notoriety lends a sense of nostalgia. There is something cinematic and familiar about 5607 Roland Ave. This model home for the Normandy Heights Development remains a stunner.
Consider this Queen Anne Style Victorian residence in the heart of North Roland Park, replete with; gothic pillars, cupolas, chandeliers, keyhole windows, stained glass, and carved balustrades. On the main floor, double pocket doors make it possible to create an open and expansive space. In its current configuration it’s a multifamily property with a huge 5 bedroom owners residence, a separate attractive 3 bedroom apartment, and a 1 bedroom basement level unit that functions best for extra storage and / or studio space.
A major permitted renovation in 2006 restored original hardwood floors, and added; a residential elevator, gourmet kitchen, luxurious baths, and central air conditioning. New plumbing and new electrical systems were installed throughout the home. The roof dates to 2002 and the gutters date to 2006. The custom-made porch balusters are in need of work, but little else remains untouched. The restoration was done with remarkable attention to detail. The total finished square footage is estimated to be 6,530 square feet.
On the exterior, multiple porches overlook a half-acre lawn outlined with mature trees including magnolia and pine. Wandering around the lush yard with a glass of lemonade seems just right. Store your cars in the detached garage. Stroll down your street and remark at the well-preserved Victorian mansions.