Special Collections: Art and Architecture

Overview

The Sheridan Libraries hold one of the most distinguished collections of European architectural treatises in the world, largely through the book collection of the Baltimore architect, Laurence Hall Fowler. Encompassing the late fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the collection focuses on classical architectural theory, beginning with the Renaissance and Baroque Italian School, then stretching to France and the British Isles during the eighteenth and early-to-mid nineteenth centuries, generally terminating with the Gothic Revival and the Beaux-Arts traditions.

Many of the finest and most sumptuously illustrated works of architecture are represented in fine, complete copies, including over 40 separate early editions of Vitruvius’s De Architectura—the only architectural text to survive from the ancient world—beginning with the 1495 incunabulum. Among the great Renaissance Italians, are major works in multiple editions and translations by Alberti, Serlio, Scamozzi, Vignola and Palladio, totalling over 120 separate works, one of the largest such gatherings in the world. The French masters Androuet du Cerceau, Bosse and De Lorme are represented in smaller, but select, numbers, as do the works of the great English classicists Inigo Jones and Robert Adam, and father of the English Gothic Revival, Augustus Welby Pugin, some of whose letters are also part of the collection. In addition to theoretical texts, there are books, many of them richly illustrated, on specific buildings, including strong holdings on theater architecture and renderings of ancient Roman structures and monuments. To learn more about the collection of printed books, consult The Fowler Architectural Collection of the Johns Hopkins University, compiled by Fowler and Elizabeth Baer (Baltimore: The Evergreen House Foundation, 1961; reprinted San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1991).

The Peabody Library is also particularly strong in the areas of British and American domestic architecture of the period 1800 through 1910, as well as building materials and practical builders’ guides, largely from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, offering contextual materials that directly complement the emphasis on architectural theory in the Fowler Collection.

Domestic Architecture

Complementing Laurence Hall Fowler's book collection are most of the working papers from his architectural practice (1906-45).  These plans, photographs and documents represent one of the most important archives on the built environment of Baltimore and there is a finding aid to his paper. Fowler also documented buildings in Baltimore photographing structures that are no longer standing.  These photographs have been described in an on-line database entitled Laurence Hall Fowler’s Lost Baltimore

We also have the records of the Roland Park Company. The collection consists of 350 cubic feet of records and over 2000 rolled drawings.  The collection is being processed and a finding will be available soon.  

Twentieth Century Architecture

Two primary sources for twentieth-century American architecture are the Charles Center Oral History collection and the Urban Planning Conference collection.

The Charles Center Oral History Collection (MS 488) documents the development of the Charles Center complex; and the Urban Planning Conference Collection (MS GAR023) documents the work of architects, builders, civic leaders, and government officials brought together to prepare for functional city-planning in the post-war years.

Smaller sources are the Remey (Charles Mason) Papers, the Wolman (Abel) Papers, and holographic notebook on drawing (MS 457).

In addition to being a lecturer and author, Charles Mason Remy was also an architect. The Remey Papers (MS 375) include a limited amount of architectural studies. The Wolman Papers (MS 105) contain an interesting series of letters between Wolman and architect Laurence Hall Fowler concerning the construction of Wolman's home at 3213 N. Charles Street.

Useful Links

For more information check out these related guides: