BNHA Perkins Square Gazebo
Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century
Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail
Points of Interest
Myrtle Ave & George St
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
The Perkins Square Gazebo harkens back to the grandeur of Baltimore’s 19th-century architectural and landscape heritage. As early as 1810, Baltimore purchased the land at the head of springs that provided the city with an abundant supply of fresh water and allowing for the creation of Baltimore’s first public parks.
In 1871, the gazebo was built as a spring shelter and centerpiece for a new park. The reputedly medicinal spring flowed at the rate of 60 gallons per minute and was one of the numerous early Baltimore natural springs. This land had been part of the Chatsworth estate originally owned by Dr. George Walker, one of Baltimore’s original commissioners. As early as the 1850s, the city became interested in preserving the spring and surrounding ground as “a place of public resort for the citizens of Baltimore.” Once triangular in shape, the park became known for its extravagant plantings with luxuriant beds of coleus and petunias planted in shapes of stars, shields and anchors, and rock formations with creeping vines. In the 1950s, Perkins Square became part of the site of a public housing project.
The octagonal-shaped gazebo has eight cast-iron columns supporting a metal roof. These architectural details capture Moorish influences, especially in the arches and roof shape. The cast-iron construction, a rarity today, also lends significance as an example of a building technology for which Baltimore was a national center of production. In 1963, the surrounding neighborhood was razed for the Murphy Homes housing project, which has since been demolished to make way for Heritage Crossing, a new group of modern housing for low- and moderate-income families. The gazebo lives on as its centerpiece, and today is one of two spring shelters left in the city.