BNHA Painted Screens

Interpretive Framework

Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century

Resource Type

Events/Cultural Resources

Various Locations

Baltimore, Maryland


A painted screen is a picture painted directly on the wire mesh of a window screen. They were a common sight on the front windows in many working class Baltimore rowhouses. The images were usually pastoral scenes of a pasture and a barn, or a lighthouse with green hills and billowy clouds in the background.

Before air conditioning, front windows had to stay open all summer, just a few feet away from the people walking along the sidewalk. Without the screens, every stranger on the sidewalk had a detailed view of everything and everyone in the front parlor. The painted screen solved this problem; one could still see out, but the paint on the screen wire kept strangers from seeing inside.

The Painted Screen Society of Baltimore is a non-profit educational organization that preserves screen painting and rowhouse arts in Baltimore neighborhoods. The society acts as a clearinghouse for information and classes and hosts workshops; tours, artist residencies in schools and museums, demonstrations, exhibitions; and community and engages in custom outreach efforts.