G.C. Wilkins House
|G.C. Wilkins House|
|Address||100 E. Biddle Street|
|Owner||Wilkins, George C.|
|Architectural Style||High Victorian Gothic|
|Number of Floors||3|
|Architect||Wilson & Wilson|
This house was built for George C. Wilkins, General Manager of the Northern Central Railroad, which owned the land on which this and a number of adjacent houses would be built in the late 1870s and the 1880s. The land became available for development in 1873 when the Northern Central gained access to the Jones Falls Valley through the new Union Station. It is probably accurate to view this house as the beginning of the Northern Central's development project. It forms a pair with Wilson & Wilson's house of roughly the same date for William T. Wilson, one of the firm's partners, across Biddle Street at 1129 St. Paul Street. It is possible that these two houses were the first Baltimore corner houses to put their entrances on the long side and to treat the long side architecturally.
George C. Wilkins was born in England and came to Baltimore after the Pennsylvania Railroad bought the Northern Central in 1873. Under Wilkins's guidance, the Northern Central became the first Baltimore railroad to offer cheap commuter fares, long a Pennsylvania RR staple in Philadelphia. By the end of the 1880s, a chain of "railroad suburbs" -- Melvale, Mount Washington, Brightside, Ruxton, and Riderwood -- would follow the Northern Central routes out the Jones Falls, splitting at Lake Roland into a line that served the Greenspring Valley, terminating at Chattalonee, and a line that served My Lady's Manor, terminating commuter service at Parkton. If you have ever wondered why Baltimore's best suburbs lie north of the city, the Northern Central and G.C. Wilkins are probably the reason.
Source: #32 on J. Appleton Wilson's list of Executed Projects and J. Appleton Wilson photo 3.95 at Maryland Center for History and Culture.