Baynard Boulevard Historic District
The Baynard Boulevard Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. Adaptation copyright © 2015, The Gombach Group.
The Baynard Boulevard Historic District is significant as a prime example of a turn-of-the-century American suburb, or what Samuel Warner has termed a streetcar suburb. Established along Wilmington's first boulevard, it became the focal point of a later heterogeneous neighborhood, specifically planned to accommodate a wider range of income levels. The District is also significant for its architectural eclecticism, common to building design of this period.
Set along the tree-lined Baynard Boulevard, the historic district begins at Brandywine Park at 18th Street and stretches north to Concord Avenue. Architectural eclecticism, common to building design of this period, characterizes the basic style of the school building, churches, and residential structures which comprise this six-block area. Modern, mid-twentieth century, two-to-three story professional buildings and a synagogue within the district do not detract from the integrity of the setting. Queen Anne styling preponderates among the large, two-and-a-half-story detached and semi-detached houses. Other styles include: Classical Revival, Georgian Revival, Jacobean Revival, Tudor Revival, and the Shingle Style. The two massive stone churches reflect the late Gothic Revival style, while the three-story, granite school building exhibits Victorian Romanesque characteristics.
Beginning at the southern boundary of the district, Hanover Presbyterian Church occupies the northeast corner of Baynard Boulevard and 18th Street. This granite structure with east and west crenellated, three-story towers, spans almost the entire length of the block. A brick, stone, and half-timber Tudor Revival style house sits to the north of the church at the corner of 19th Street. Behind this house, on Jefferson Street, is a stone house with a two-story conical-roof tower. A one-story stone porch surrounds the north and west sides of the house.
Beginning at the southwestern corner of Baynard Boulevard and 18th Street and stretching up the block almost to 19th Street, is Beth Shalom Synagogue, a modern, yellow brick structure; it meets a brick, Jacobean Revival style house with two-story front bay windows, surmounted by centrally-arched parapets displaying pendants. Crossing north to the west side of the 1900 block, the Georgian Revival style is most evident in plan and design of the three brick residences.
On the east side of the street, detached and semi-detached houses occupy the 1900 block. With the exception of one brick structure, all the houses are built of stone. Vestiges of the Queen Anne style are evident with the inclusion of classically-styled front porches, cross gables, and stucco or slate-sheathed bay windows. Heading north across 20th Street, to the east side of the 2000 block of Baynard Boulevard, the Georgian Revival, Shingle, and subdued Queen Anne styles are represented. Built of stone, brick and stucco, these detached and semi-detached houses feature classical detail, crossing gables, turrets, front porches, and variegated surface patterns created by wood shingles, slate, and stucco.
The northwest corner of the 2000 block begins with the earliest home to be constructed on Baynard Boulevard. Built in 1895, this brick, stone and wood shingle structure is distinguished by an irregular roof line. The Children's Bureau of Delaware dominates the next two northern lots on the block. This three-story, T-plan, brick structure is situated so as not to intrude upon its surroundings. Continuing north, an open lot exists where part of the Baynard Boulevard Tennis Courts, built about 1905, once stood; it lies between the Children's Bureau and a brick, Georgian Revival style house, which has been altered slightly by the removal of its front porch. To complete the block, a stone and wood shingle style house, with a surrounding verandah of stone pillars, fronts the intersection of 21st Street and Baynard Boulevard on the southwest corner. Directly across 21st Street is the next block developed along the Baynard Boulevard. The two oldest homes, dating 1895 and 1898, are fine examples of the Queen Anne style; both are brick, irregular in plan, and feature three-story towers. Between these two houses lies a stone Italianate Revival style residence. Two Queen Anne style variants also exist on this block; these residences are basically brick with irregular roof lines and variegated surface patterns. The last residential structure on the block is one of the last dwellings to be built along the Boulevard. This English brick, Jacobean Revival style home, built in 1930, faces 22nd Street and Baynard Boulevard. A low, two-story, modern professional building begins the eastern side of the 2100 block. The remaining residential structures, which lie north of the commercial building, represent derivatives of Queen Anne design. Three of the houses are constructed of granite and one is brick. Classical detail, slate trim, front porches, multiple roof and window projections characterize these residences.
Continuing north on the east side of Baynard Boulevard, McCabe United Methodist Church encompasses most of the 2200 block. It is a granite, late Gothic Revival style structure with pointed arch, stained glass, and tracery fenestration. Its mid-twentieth century addition blends well with the original portion. This block is completed by three brick houses, which exhibit variations of the Queen Anne style. Hipped slate roofs with projecting dormers surmount these structures which are embellished with stucco, slate, and stone. Porches span their facades.
The majority of houses on the west side of the 2200 block are of stone construction, surmounted by hipped roofs with dormers and front cross gables. Two structures are faced with stucco and another is English brick; each has a gable roof with front and rear dormers. The Queen Anne style is suggested among these houses by the evidence of bay windows, full-length front porches, variegated surface patterns created by stucco, slate and wood trim, coordinated with classical detail.
Heading northwest on the 2300 block, the influence of the Queen Anne style is again apparent. These residential structures are all constructed of brick, with the exception of the stucco house at the southeast corner of 24th Street and Baynard Boulevard. The greatest number of these houses have hipped roofs with dormers on each slope; others have gable roofs, also displaying dormers. Classical styled front porches span each of the brick dwellings with stucco, slate, and clapboard-surfaced areas.
The east side of the 2300 block of Baynard Boulevard begins at its southern corner with a Gothic Revival style house of brick and stucco with a two-story corner tower. Immediately to the north lies a Classical Revival style, brick residence with rose-colored slate adornment. Next door is a mid-twentieth century, brick, Colonial style house followed by a brick, late Georgian Revival residence. A modern, two-story apartment building occupies the next lot. Continuing north stands a brick, semi-detached house unified by a front porch spanning its facade. A one-story professional building, which was once a car dealership, fronts the corner of Baynard Boulevard and Van Buren Street to terminate the 2300 block.
Resting on a northeastern triangular lot, created by the crossing of Baynard Boulevard, Concord Avenue, and Van Buren Street, is the No. 30 School. Built in 1912, this granite building is dressed with brownstone belt courses and raised keystones above large, multi-paned, double-hung windows.
Across the street, standing alone on a short three-corner block at the northwest corner of 24th Street and Baynard Boulevard, is a brick Georgian Revival style house, trimmed in slate and clapboard.
Eclecticism predominates as the architectural style among the structure along Baynard Boulevard. Common to the early-twentieth century, this style comprised formal and vernacular elements of Gothic, Classical and other architectural styles of the past, creatively adapted to modern building design.
Another architectural style represented in the district is Queen Anne, which reigned in America from 1880-1900. It is characterized by surrounding verandahs, towers, variegated surface patterns and delicate use of classical detail.
Around 1890, with the advent of streetcar lines, one means by which American cities diverged was by way of the tree-lined boulevard. This method of community planning, strongly advocated by the famous American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, involved planting rows of trees on a wide street to create a scenic promenade which usually stemmed from a landscaped park. Upper class houses fronted this kind of city street. In 1892, the Northside Improvement Company of Wilmington purchased sixty acres of farmland just north of Brandywine Park. Their intent was to create elegant home sites along a wide tree-lined street to be called the Boulevard. The placement of this street was determined in 1893, when the city decided to build Washington Street Bridge to bring the northern section of Wilmington in closer proximity to the city. Sidewalks and curbs were then laid and trees planted from 20th Street to Concord Avenue.
Thirty years elapsed before the Boulevard was built upon its entire length. An early example of street planning to discourage through traffic, intersecting numbered streets were placed dog-legged off the Boulevard to parallel a grid system.
The man most responsible for the creation of the Boulevard and its environs, was the company's president, Samuel H. Baynard. Mr. Baynard financed the construction of many houses and churches; he donated land to the city for Washington Street Bridge, parts of Brandywine Park and No. 30 School. He served as president of Wilmington's Board of Park Commissioners and Board of Education and was a member of the House of Representatives and Wilmington's City Council. Mr. Baynard's home was located on 18th and Jefferson Streets just east of Hanover Church. Although his home is no longer standing, the home that he built for his daughter, Anna, is still there. It is located on Jefferson Street behind where his home once stood.
Following the death of Samuel Baynard in 1925, the Boulevard was renamed the Baynard Boulevard to honor its greatest benefactor.
House construction along the Boulevard did not follow consecutively. The first house was built in 1895 at 2001 Baynard Boulevard for Edmund C. Hardesty, who served as the Delaware Legislature's first official court stenographer. The next house, at 2005, which was erected for Charles W. Taylor, is no longer standing. The third house was constructed for Benjamin P. Shaw at 2101, Mr. Shaw was a prominent figure in early 20th-century Delaware as president of the B.F. Shaw Company, one of the largest piping equipment companies in the county. In addition, he served on countless public commissions in Wilmington, founded Beebe Hospital in Lewes and personally financed boardwalk construction at Rehoboth Beach. Howard B. Griffiths, a civil engineer, established the fourth residence at 2105 in 1898. George C. Hall, a clergyman, chose to build at 2300 that same year. This house later became the Washington Heights Century Club. From 1901-10, following the 1901 placement of a streetcar line from center city to the Boulevard at 22nd Street, home development concentrated in the three-block span from 19th to 22nd Streets. These houses, some of which are semi-detached, were built by the Northside Improvement Company in order to promote the area and attract those of lesser means to sites on streets intersecting the Boulevard. During this time Hanover Presbyterian Church was under construction. The Boulevard showed its most prodigious expansion from 1910-20 when thirty-one houses were built from 18th Street to Concord Avenue. McCabe United Methodist Church and No. 30 School were also built in this period. During the 1920's six more houses and a car dealership were added by the Northside Improvement Company, whose directors and officers personally financed the construction of the majority of houses.
The residents of Baynard Boulevard have been predominantly upper-middle class. City Directories list their occupations as entrepreneurs, company directors, professionals and building contractors.
In the mid-teens and twenties many Jewish families, barred from other upper-class city neighborhoods, moved to the Boulevard. The area became known as "Jewish Heaven," and the Washington Street Bridge was referred to as "The Jewish Passover." A small synagogue was established in a house at nearby 18th and Washington Streets. In the 1950's, in order to accommodate the growing Jewish population, a new synagogue was built at the corner of 18th Street and Baynard Boulevard.
The neighborhood remained stable until the 1960's when several houses were displaced by modern professional and apartment buildings; some others were converted to accommodate professional offices and apartments and a few were left vacant. In the 1970's the area was revitalized, as young professionals moved in and began restoring their houses. A neighborhood organization, formed in 1969, successfully prevented the proposed construction of high-rise apartment buildings on Baynard Boulevard.
Jean Athan, Historic Preservation Aide, Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, Baynard Boulevard Historic District, New Castle County, Delaware, nomination document, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.