Evergreen, 4545 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Independent City, MD
Significance: Evergreen is best known as the home of the Ambassador John Work Garrett (1872-1942) and his wife Alice Warder Garrett (1877-1952) who made their estate into an artistic and cultural center soon after inheriting the property in 1920. The Garretts invited a series of artists and designers to live and work in the house, and in exchange these creative individuals left their mark on the Garrett family home. In 1922, for example, the Theater (T1) at Evergreen was repurposed by the architect Laurence Hall Fowler (1876-1971) from an earlier gymnasium and was decorated by the Russian artist and set designer Léon Bakst (1866-1924). Miguel Covarrubius's (1904-57) panel paintings in the Reading Room (120) document the diplomatic career of John W. Garrett, while at the same time became an important interior feature of the house.
While the residency of John W. Garrett and Alice Warder Garrett may have given the house its lasting renown, the importance of the building is not limited to their tenancy. Indeed, perhaps the greatest architectural significance of the house is the manner in which it reflects the accretion of architectural forms over the course of the century spanning roughly 1850 to 1950. Constructed in 1858 by the Baltimore carpenter and builder John W. Hogg (1813-1871) for a Baltimore entrepreneur and lottery dealer named Stephen Broadbent (dates unknown), the classical revival-styled house is a manifestation of prevalent architectural trends that favored elements of both the Greek Revival and Italianate modes of design. Subsequent additions to the house, completed in the 1880s by T[homas] Harrison Garrett (1849-1888) and his wife Alice Dickinson Whitridge Garrett (1851-1920), reflected the eclectic interests of the nineteenth-century Romantic era and significant remnants of their aesthetic predilections remain. The Garretts' first changes to the house were made following the designs of the prolific Baltimore architecture firm of J.A. & W.T. Wilson [John Appleton Wilson (1851-1927); William Thomas Wilson (1850-1907)]. Working with the combined local advice of the architect Charles L. Carson (1847-91) and the firm of P. Hanson Hiss and Company, as well as the nationally-renowned New York interior design firm of Herter Brothers (1864-1906), the Garretts altered the house to reflect their interests in Asian decorative arts and prevailing eclectic trends. They also worked extensively on the landscape of the estate, consulting Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903). Following the death of T. Harrison Garrett, the house was left unoccupied for nearly a decade until Alice Whitridge Garrett returned to it in 1895. She carried out significant alterations between 1899 and 1906. In this third stage of development, Alice Whitridge Garrett responded to the architectural standards for country homes established by the influential success of McKim, Mead and White and the wide-spread popularity of revivalist architectural styles. She worked with the architect J. Lawrence Aspinwall (d. 1936), of the New York firm Renwick, Aspinwall and Owen (1895-1905), to create a new formal entrance to the house, and also with the Baltimore architect Paul Emmart (1866- ca. 1930) to design formal dressing rooms (B3, B4) for guests arriving at Evergreen. She once again consulted with the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted to enhance the landscape plan of the estate. With the additions and alterations completed between 1922 and 1942 by John W. Garrett and Alice Warder Garrett, largely in conjunction with the Baltimore architect Laurence Hall Fowler (1876-1971), features of the house were altered to reflect the influence of prevailing early twentieth-century tendencies, fusing aspects of the Colonial Revival with the aesthetic influences of Covarrubius and Bakst.
Finally, in addition to its relevance within the development of national architectural trends, Evergreen is of particular value to the history of Baltimore architecture. From its construction by a local builder through the alterations largely carried out by Fowler in the twentieth century, Evergreen is the product of Baltimore designers and craftsman rather than the work of distant, nationally-renowned designers. Its history offers insight into such important local figures as Samuel H. Adams (d. 1882) and John F. Adams (dates unknown), Baltimore contractors who owned the house prior to T. Harrison Garrett, as well as Charles L. Carson, P. Hanson Hiss, and Laurence Hall Fowler. In large part due to the rich archival materials retained by the Garrett family, the history of design and subsequent renovations at Evergreen contributes to an understanding of the architectural community active in Baltimore from ca. 1850 to ca. 1950.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N1151
Survey number: HABS MD-1167
Building/structure dates: 1858 Initial Construction
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 83002932