Baltimore is known as a city of neighborhoods, and each neighborhood has its own special character. The Old Goucher neighborhood is a diverse, eclectic community located in the geographic center of Baltimore. The original campus of Goucher College (now in Towson, Maryland) gives the neighborhood its name as well as many of its landmark buildings. One of the most demographically-representative neighborhoods in the city, Old Goucher's entrepreneurial, creative, and progressive history dates back over 100 years.
In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, it was known as Baltimore’s “Design District”, a legacy still visible today in numerous architecture, graphic design, and engineering firms located in the neighborhood. The diverse and vibrant culture is enhanced by Old Goucher’s business community, including many afrocentric businesses and creative entrepreneurs.
Since 2000 Old Goucher has had one of the highest growth rates in the city — comparable to the rapidly growing neighborhoods along Baltimore’s waterfront. Located immediately north of the Station North Arts & Entertainment District, Old Goucher is re-emerging as a creative hub that is home to many art-related businesses and activities. In the past decade significant redevelopment in Remington and Station North has begun to spread in Old Goucher.
Old Goucher is located less than 2 miles north of the Inner Harbor on the Charles Street corridor. It lies between neighborhoods like Station North and Barclay to the south and east, and communities like Remington and Charles Village to the north and west.
Great transit accessibility has helped sustain Old Goucher's growth over the past 15 years. The neighborhood is located just north of Baltimore Pennsylvania Station, providing MARC commuter access to Washington DC and Amtrak connections to the Northeast Corridor and beyond. Numerous bus lines run through Old Goucher, connecting it to the rest of the city.
The neighborhood is highly walkable and includes two supermarkets, numerous eateries, shops, and small businesses. Baltimore’s first cycle track runs through the neighborhood on Maryland Avenue to downtown. The Jones Falls Expressway (I-83) lies just west of Old Goucher, easily reached from North Avenue and 28th/29th streets.
Old Goucher developed just north of the Baltimore City boundary in mid- to late 19th century, replacing several country estates and extending the urban character of Baltimore City northward. Residents leaving the city center during the late 19th century were attracted to the edge suburbs such as Old Goucher in part because these new developments were built with infrastructure such as electric power and storm sewers already in place.
Old Goucher was constructed primarily at the end of the 19th century as a rowhouse neighborhood with the Goucher College campus at its heart. Due to the rapid development of the community there is a distinct and relatively uniform building fabric in the area. The Old Goucher campus and significant churches were mostly in place by the late 1890s and the three story Italianate and Queen Anne style houses filled in the blocks between 1880 and 1900. Road transportation was centered on Charles Street, combined with interlocking streetcar lines that wound through the
In 1921, Goucher College decided to move out of the city, and purchased 421 acres of land in Towson, MD. The college was continuing to grow and the neighborhood surrounding the campus was evolving. The mix of buildings and uses in Old Goucher was increasingly gaining a commercial character. Offices occupied existing buildings, retail storefronts emerged, especially along 25th and Charles Streets, and purpose-built commercial buildings, like theaters, stores and office buildings, began to fill in along 25th and Charles.
During the post-war era, with the growth of the suburbs and increased automobile ownership, the neighborhood gradually added uses and accommodations oriented toward automobile owners. Service stations and car dealerships that developed in the light industrial area to the west of the neighborhood also appeared along 25th Street. Many of the green spaces associated with Goucher College were paved over for additional surface parking lots.
The buildings constructed during this era were more modern in design and tended to make generous allowances for car parking and off-street loading and unloading. As a result of the selective demolition of historic structures and infill of modern buildings and surface parking, the neighborhood lost some of its 19th-century urban character, while making more room and easing access for automobiles and commuters from outside the area.
The positive aspect of these changes is that Old Goucher is now a vital mixed-use area, accommodating a wide range of people and businesses. However, this evolution has also led to the loss of some of the architectural character of the area and has reduced the number of people living in Old Goucher. St. Paul Street, Calvert Street, Charles Street and 25th Street were reconfigured into highly traveled commuter thoroughfares.
In an effort to retain the essential 19th century urban character and rich architectural legacy of the neighborhood, Old Goucher was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. That effort continues to this day with the pending creation of a Commission of Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) District to help ensure that the beauty and unique character of the neighborhood will continue to endure for future generations of residents to enjoy.
Historic Preservation Study
Strengthening a Community Identity Through an Exploration of the Past
In the spring of 2013, the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at the University of Maryland College Park studied Old Goucher and contributde a supplemental preservation document to the developing Old Goucher Vision Plan. Six historic preservation graduate students with backgrounds in history and rural landscapes, global studies and business management, psychology and education, archaeology, and architecture, worked together on this project.
The UM report analyzes the historical development of the neighborhood, both physically and socially, and provides fascinating context on origins, growth, and evolution of Old Goucher. Recommended reading!
- UM Historic Preservation Report – PART 1
- UM Historic Preservation Report – PART 2
- UM Historic Preservation Report – PART 3
- UM Historic Preservation Report – PART 4
- UM Historic Preservation Report – PART 5