When developers David Bauer and Michael Gordon bought Whitehill’s Row a few years ago, they wanted to pay tribute to the past while creating contemporary homes for everyone from hipsters to empty nesters in a revitalized location on the east end of Downtown Frederick.
The property dates to 1858, when prominent Frederick businessman James Whitehill had six row houses built along the B&O Railroad tracks. The property, which he named after himself, served as rental dwellings, most likely for employees or tradesmen working in the railroad, tannery, brickworks and lime kiln industries.
Men who rented in the early 1900s are believed to have been employed by area manufacturers such as the Frederick Iron and Steel Company, General Tire, the Hillside Motor Company and the Everedy Company, according to the Maryland Historical Trust. Many female renters had jobs at Union Knitting Mills, the G.L. Baking Co. and Sanitary Laundry.
The homes were rented until 1922, when George Baker bought the entire block on B&O Avenue so his family could live in unit 155 on the west end of it. Baker passed the units down to family members who lived there until the 1970s. At that time, all but one was bought by the McCutcheon brothers, owners of McCutcheon Apple Products Inc., a neighbor of the property.
Today, Whitehill’s Row, set along Carroll Creek, is registered with the Frederick County Historic Preservation Commission, as well as the Maryland Historical Trust.
Both developers felt it was only fitting to keep the property’s name with its latest iteration. They also honored the buildings’ history by repurposing floor joists, exposing brick and stone walls, and reclaiming mantels instead of destroying or covering them up.
During the renovation process, Bauer, also a real estate agent with SWC Realty of Maryland, which will sell the properties, and his work crews discovered some relics of the past. When removing the ornately carved wooden mantels original to the homes, crews found coins dating to the early 1900s. Plus, they unearthed old hand tools and small glass bottles from the late 1800s.
They also found the basements in all but one still had dirt or gravel as the flooring. These spaces had been used for coal storage. In the 1800s, folks would grab the coal from the basement to bring upstairs to heat their homes. The remaining row home’s basement was used for horse stalls.
“I have enjoyed the historical aspect, learning about the history of the building,” Gordon said of the project, which is roughly 300 feet from Carroll Creek. “...I think everybody saw the opportunity like we did that [the renovation] was a chance to revitalize this neighborhood.”