Roland Park Historic District
House along Goodwood Gardens
|Location||Irregular pattern between Belvedere Ave., Falls Rd., 39th St., and Stoney Run, Baltimore, Maryland|
|Area||700 acres (280 ha)|
|Architect||Olmsted, Frederick Law; Et al.|
|Architectural style||Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals, Late Victorian|
|NRHP reference #||74002213|
|Added to NRHP||December 23, 1974|
Roland Park is the first planned "suburban" community in North America, located in Baltimore, Maryland. It was developed between 1890 and 1920 as an upper-class streetcar suburb. The early phases of the neighborhood were designed by Edward Bouton and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.
Jarvis and Conklin, a Chicago investment firm, purchased 500 acres of land near Lake Roland in 1891 and founded the Roland Park Company with $1 million in capital. Not long after, the Panic of 1893 forced Jarvis and Conklin to sell the Roland Park Company to the firm of Stewart and Young. Despite the dire economics after 1893, Stewart and Young continued investment in the development.
The Roland Park Company hired Kansas City developer Edward H. Bouton as the general manager and George Edward Kessler to lay out the lots for the first tract. They hired the Olmsted Brothers to lay out the second tract, and installed expensive infrastructure, including graded-streets, gutters, sidewalks, and constructed the Lake Roland Elevated Railroad. The company consulted George E Waring, Jr. to advise them on the installation of a sewer system. Bouton placed restrictive covenants on all lots in Roland Park. These included setback requirements and proscriptions against any business operations. Though Bouton was initially advised by his lawyers that explicitly forbidding African-Americans from purchasing land in Roland Park might violate the 14th Amendment, these covenants were nonetheless designed with the specific purpose of keeping African-American and Jewish buyers out. Language expressly forbidding "any negro or person of negro extraction" from living in Roland Park (except as a domestic servant) was ultimately added in 1912, under the subheading "Nuisances." Roland Park was one of the first communities to use such racially exclusive covenants, and such policies shaped residential segregation in Baltimore and nationwide, creating a lasting impact on the distribution of wealth. Even as of 2016, 48 years after the Fair Housing Act was enacted, only 6% of residents were African-American in a city that is more than 60% African-American overall.
Bouton and some Baltimore investors purchased the interests of Roland Park and reorganized the company in 1903.
Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. cited Roland Park as a model residential subdivision to his Harvard School of Design students. Duncan McDuffie, developer of St. Francis Wood in San Francisco, called Roland Park "an ideal residential district." Jesse Clyde Nichols had found inspiration in Roland Park when he was planning the Country Club District of Kansas City. Nichols continued to refer to Roland Park as an ideal residential development when he counselled other residential developers.
Roland Park Shopping Center is a single building strip of stores which opened in 1907 to serve the community, located at the corner of Upland Road and Roland Avenue. It has been credited by Guinness World Records as the world's first shopping center (though some editions of Guinness incorrectly date it to 1896). Since it had only six stores, despite it being an important milestone, larger shopping centers such as the Country Club Plaza (1923) in Kansas City, Missouri have received more attention as being "first," depending on what definition is used.
The neighborhood is within the bounds of Baltimore City Public Schools and is assigned to Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, a K-8 school that earned the Blue Ribbon for Academic Excellence from the state department of education.[when?]
There are several private schools in the neighborhood: Friends School of Baltimore, Gilman School, Roland Park Country School, the Bryn Mawr School, Cathedral School, and Boys' Latin School of Maryland. In addition, St. Mary's Seminary and University is located in Roland Park.
There is also a branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Roland Park.