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Mount Washington is a community of homes with a wide variety of architectural styles. Many examples of late 19th- and early 20th-century residential styles exist, including Gothic Revival, Italianate, and colonial — and there are even one or two Octagon houses.

Houses here were constructed on large, irregularly shaped lots, and with access to attractive, curving streets under canopies of trees. Contemporary homes have been successfully introduced in recent years, following existing patterns in the natural environment and preserving the community’s character.

The neighborhood has a high degree of aesthetic integrity — great homes within surroundings that have changed little in time. Large expanses of historic open space have been saved. Mount Washington was designated an historic district years ago by the City of Baltimore to protect and celebrate this character.

As the first step in the construction process in Baltimore, building permits for all trades — including electrical, mechanical, plumbing or structural work — must be obtained by the homeowner or builder. In the historic district, building permits must also be obtained for:

Permits are not required for exterior landscaping or site improvement; exterior patios, walls, and walks; work limited only to roofs or gutters; or driveways that do not disturb or make curb cuts.

Applicants for permits to work on properties in the Mount Washington Historic District must obtain review and approval from the Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. The Commission delegates its review responsibilities to the neighborhood Architectural Review Committee, which was established by the Mount Washington Improvement Association to examine and monitor construction in the neighborhood.

The Committee, chaired by Walter Daly (walter.m.daly@gmail.com), reviews with the owners (and, if possible, the builder and architect) the complete proposal, including the site plan, floor plans, elevations, all materials, and all colors. The Committee’s major concerns include the appropriateness in the neighborhood of the overall stylistic design and siting of the proposed project.

Exterior facades, and the massing and siting of the structures, are analyzed to ensure that they meeting zoning and the Commission’s requirements. Suggestions may be made as necessary to meet the Commission’s conditions.

Should the Committee approve of the work, it sends the recommendation for approval — with any necessary conditions — to Eddie Leon (eddie.leon@baltimorecity.gov) at the Commission. More than one review may be required before the Committee recommends approval. Once the approval is received, Mr. Leon notifies the Baltimore Office of Permits & Building Inspections that the appropriate permits may be issued, allowing the builder to finalize the process and start construction.

For additional information on the permitting and Commission approval process, and the map of the Mount Washington Historic District, please visit the Baltimore City website.

Originally printed in the MWIA January 2017 Newsletter. Author: Edward Haladay (ephaladay@mac.com)