J. Appleton Wilson

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J. Appleton Wilson
General Information
Alma Mater
Columbian College; MIT
Virginia Wade Wilson


John Appleton Wilson, a member of the fourth generation of a rich and well-connected Baltimore family, was born at 11 E. Pleasant Street and raised, from 1855 on, at “Oakley,” an Italianate villa set on thirteen acres near the present corner of Fulton and Edmondson Avenues in Baltimore.

The Wilsons were enthusiastic Baptists, and J. Appleton’s father, the Rev. Franklin Wilson, was an amateur clergyman. His mother, the former Mary Appleton, was from Portland, Maine. Wilson seems to have lived quietly, but good connections, both in Baltimore Society and in the Baptist denomination, played a considerable role in his professional life.

Wilson attended Columbian College, a Baptist college in Washington DC, from 1871 to 1873. In the year 1873-74 he studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He seems to have entered practice in Baltimore in 1874, working first in the office of Baldwin and Price, then with E. Francis Baldwin alone, then with W. F. Weber. He had formed his own practice by 1877 and was for many years associated with his cousin, William T. Wilson, in the firm of Wilson and Wilson.

J. Appleton Wilson designed about 40 houses in Baltimore’s “Belvedere” neighborhood in the 1880s, as well as many churches (not all Baptist) and a wide range of commercial and industrial buildings. He also worked extensively in the upper South, designing buildings in Virginia and North Carolina. By the testimony of his meticulous diaries, he worked rapidly. He performed many of the functions of modern structural and mechanical engineers.

From the 1890s on, he designed many houses in the suburbs of Baltimore and in the surrounding countryside. Many of his buildings survive. In this writer’s opinion, he was at his best as an urban eclectic architect, and he was capable of very good design. Notable surviving works includes: Belvedere Terrace (east side) in the 1000 block of Calvert Street, the B.F. Newcomer house at 1211 St. Paul Street, the Charles Rous house at 104 W. Biddle Street, and the E. B. Bruce house at 1112 Calvert Street. The Georgian revival, which he adopted in the early-1890s for city work and for some suburban houses, left his muse cold.

From the evidence of his diaries and his output, he drove himself hard for about 25 years. Beginning in the late-1890s, however (probably after an inheritance), he traveled frequently in Europe, and his work load seems to have fallen off. He may have designed several small downtown buildings after the fire, but his office diaries, exact in earlier years, become vague.

From 1885 to approximately 1892, he lived in a picturesque row house of his own design on the Oakley property. Oakley was sold for development in 1892, and Wilson moved to 1013 St. Paul Street, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1877 he married Mary Wade, a Virginian. Two sons died in infancy. A daughter, Virginia A. Wilson (1881-1955), died unmarried.

Wilson was active in the Municipal Art Society and in numerous old-family patriotic societies. Fortunately for us, he was corresponding secretary of the Maryland Historical Society, thus his daughter left his papers (and several hundred photographs) to the Society.

By Charles Duff



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Project Completed Address Image
Project Completed Address Image
1003 North Calvert Street 1880 1003 North Calvert Street
1005 North Calvert Street 1880 1005 North Calvert Street
1007 North Calvert Street 1880 1007 North Calvert Street
1009 North Calvert Street 1880 1009 North Calvert Street
1011 North Calvert Street 1880 1011 North Calvert Street
1013 North Calvert Street 1880 1013 North Calvert Street
1015 North Calvert Street 1880 1015 North Calvert Street
1017 North Calvert Street 1880 1017 North Calvert Street
1019 North Calvert Street 1880 1019 North Calvert Street
1021 North Calvert Street 1880 1021 North Calvert Street
1023 North Calvert Street 1880 1023 North Calvert Street
1025 North Calvert Street 1880 1025 North Calvert Street
1027 North Calvert Street 1880 1027 North Calvert Street
1029 North Calvert Street 1880 1029 North Calvert Street
1035 North Calvert Street 1879 1035 North Calvert Street
Calvert 1035 and 1037.jpg
1037 North Calvert Street 1879 1037 North Calvert Street
12 East Lafayette Avenue 1884 12 East Lafayette Avenue
1201 John Street 1880 1201 John Street
1203 John Street 1880 1203 John Street
1205 John Street 1205 John Street
1207 John Street 1207 John Street
1209 John Street 1209 John Street
1211 John Street 1880 1211 John Street
1213 John Street 1880 1213 John Street
1215 John Street 1880 1215 John Stret
1217 John Street 1880 1217 John Street
John Street 1217.jpg
14 East Lafayette Avenue 1884 14 East Lafayette Avenue
16 East Lafayette Avenue 1884 16 East Lafayette Avenue
18 East Lafayette Avenue 1886 18 East Lafayette Avenue
20 East Lafayette Avenue 1886 20 East Lafayette Avenue
227 North Calvert Street store front 1878 227 North Calvert Street
2538 Madison Avenue 1883 2538 Madison Avenue
2540 Madison Avenue 1883 2540 Madison Avenue
2542 Madison Avenue 1883 2542 Madison Avenue
2544 Madison Avenue 1883 2544 Madison Avenue
2546 Madison Avenue 1883 2546 Madison Avenue
2548 Madison Avenue 1883 2548 Madison Avenue
2550 Madison Avenue 1883 2550 Madison Avenue
2554 Madison Avenue 2554 Madison Avenue
2556 Madison Avenue 1883 2552 Madison Avenue
Adams Express Co. Freight Depot 502 Guilford Avenue
B.F. Newcomer house 1883 1211 St. Paul Street
John Appleton Wilson - B.F. Newcomer Residence @ 1211 St. Paul St. - Google Map Street View.JPG
Baggage Room Washington DC 1882
Baltimore Stock Exchange 210 East Redwood Street
Baptist Church
Berryville Baptist Church 1884 114 Academy Street
Wilson Berryville-Baptist-Church-1885.jpeg
Bethany Church Eager Street
Calvary Colored Baptist Church 1884 Corner of Park Avenue and Howard Street
Charles Rous house 1884 104 W Biddle Street
John Appleton Wilson - Charles Rous Residence @ 104 W. Biddle St.JPG
Church at Kilmarnock Lancaster County Va 1879
Coffee Warehouse Thames Street 1879 902 South Bond Street
Cottage at Lake George for A.G. Davis 1884
Cottage for G.C. Wilkins near Rider's NCRR 1879
Country house for Lawrence Turnbull 1884 La Paix Lane
Wilson La Paix.jpeg
Country House for William T. Wilson 1884
E. B. Bruce Residence 1112 N Calvert St
John Appleton Wilson - E. B. Bruce Residence @ 1112 Calvert St. - Google Map Street View.JPG
F. M. Colston House 1880 1016 St. Paul Street
Female House of Refuge 1882 700 Baker Street
First Colored Baptist Church 1880 527 North Caroline Street
Wilson First Colored Baptist Church.jpeg
Franklin Square Baptist Church 1880 100 North Calhoun Street
Gustav Lurman house Catonsville
Houses for Lawrence Turnbull Lanvale Street 1884 12-20 East Lafayette Avenue
J. Boykin Lee House 1880 1400 North Charles Street
L.L. Conrad Stable 4 East Madison Street
L.P. Haslup Carriage Warehouse 1879 1420 West Baltimore Street
Leesburg Baptist Church 1884
Mt. Washington Hall 1884 corner of South Road and Greeley Avenue, Mt. Washington
No. 4 Engine House BCFD 210 East Lexington Street
Professor W.L. Wilson house 1875
Roller Skating Rink for S.T. Clark 1878 Biddle Street near Charles
Rolller Skating Rink for S.T. Clark Mulberry and Republican 1879 Mulberry Street and Carrollton Avenue
Salem (Va) Baptist Church
Shelter House at Grantley 1882
Stable for Gustav Lurman 1884
Stable for J. Parker Veasey 1883 near Catonsville
Stable for York Road Passenger Railroad
Station at Suffolk Virginia S&R RR 1884
Wilson - Suffolk Va Station.jpeg
Station Buildings at Garrison's Lane 1883 Garrison's Lane
Station Buildings at Navy Yard 1883 Washington Navy Yard
Two houses for Geo. A. Blake 1884 10-12 West Biddle Street
Warehouse for H.C. Smyser 1883 Saratoga Street near Gay
Woodberry Town Hall
224 North Calvert Street store front and alterations 1878 224 North Calvert Street
Addition to Mr. Wilkins' Cottage Sherwood NCR 1884
Alterations and Additions to 24 N. Charles Street 1884 24 North Charles Street
Alterations at 304 W. Baltimore Street 1878 304 W. Baltimore Street
Alterations for Bowie Station July 1879
Alterations for J. Wilson Brown near Waverly 1884
Brown and Loundes Offices - interior fittings 1881 210 East Redwood Street
Doorway for 15 West Biddle Street 1883 15 W. Biddle
Drawings for dining room & conservatory & interior fittings 1883 4545 North Charles street
Drawings for two bath rooms for T.H. Garrett Esq. 1883 4545 North Charles Street
E.N. Morison house 1884
Evergreen House 1883 4545 North Charles Street
High Street Baptist Church - New Spire 1878
House for Prof. J. Wallis Blair 1884
Huntington alterations 1879
Mrs. S.C. Brown's Country House 1883 near Govanstown
St. Barnabas Church 1884 Biddle Street and Argyle Avenue
William B. Wilson house 1883 1117 North Charles Street