Stereoview of Barnum’s Hotel by William Chase

Journalist and Baltimore historian Carleton Jones called David Barnum’s City Hotel “by all odds the greatest hostelry historically in city history” (Jones, Lost Baltimore Landmarks, p. 33).

The hotel’s guest register contains the signatures of numerous 19th century worthies, including Confederate spy Belle Boyd, John Wilkes Booth, and some of the Harper’s Ferry conspirators. Barnum’s was Charles Dickens’ favorite American hotel. President John Quincy Adams was a guest when the hotel was new.

Located on North Calvert Street at Fayette, the hotel was built in 1825 and torn down ca. 1889; the Equitable building stands in its place.

Jones learned that the hotel had originally resembled Boston’s Tremont House, but had been “gussied up like some aging dowager” by the 1860s with “bulging iron balconies” (Jones, 33).  The online collaborative project  Maryland’s Digital Cultural Heritage has an 1835 drawing that shows the hotel’s original design.

Its basement, recounts John Thomas Scharf, was “of granite from the Susquehanna, near Port Deposit, and the front appointments of this story were originally used as a post office” (History of Baltimore City and County, p. 516).

It was, writes Molly Berger, “the country’s most renowned hostelry at the time.” Four stories tall, and encompassing 172 bedrooms and suites, “an enormous 86 by 30 foot dining room, plus another room of equal size to accommodate ‘public dinner parties’ and balls. . . a reading room” open to the public, all illuminated by gas lighting, the City Hotel set a new standard for comfort and service (Hotel Dreams: Luxury, Technology and Urban Ambition in America, 1829-1929, pp. 18 ff.)

Philadelphia  architect Norris Gershon Starkwether gave the hotel its makeover in the late 1850s. The details Jones loathes were drawn from Starkwether’s fanciful designs of Italianate villas (Hayward and Shivers, The Architecture of Baltimore: An Illustrated History, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004, pp. 132-133).

Published by William Moody Chase, this stereograph was probably made ca. 1862-1876, the period, according to McCulloh, when yellow mounts dominated and card stock had grown thicker (McCulloh, Card Photographs: A Guide to Their History and Value, 1981, p. 79)

Neither a monument, a public institution nor a personal mansion, the hotel was nevertheless a fit subject stereo-optical subject for an armchair tourist. Barnum’s City Hotel, situated in the  heart of Monument Square, was a sign of Baltimore’s coming of age as a great American city.

Dentists I Have Not Known: Dr. George Douglass Rouse

As far as I can tell, Dr. George Douglass Rouse, DDS (1870-1948), lived a quiet life in Charleston, South Carolina.

Although I have not been able to locate him among the graduates of Baltimore’s two pioneering schools of dentistry, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery and the University of Maryland’s Department of Dental Surgery, his obituary says that he studied dentistry at the University of Maryland and the University of Tennessee.

I did find a record, in a history of the dental profession in South Carolina, of George D. Rouse being admitted to the practice of dentistry by the South Carolina Dental Association in 1894 (History of the South Carolina Dental Association, 1869-1950, p. 146).

Dr. Rouse may not have been a ground-breaking dentist, but he did have something special: pedigree.

George D. Rouse could trace his lineage back to an ancestor who had fought in the American Revolution. His great-great-grandfather, William Rouse, joined the Continental army,  fought in the “Siege of Savannah” in 1779, and was taken prisoner by the British.

Thanks to the careful records kept by the Sons of the American Revolution, George knew that William Rouse was born in Leeds, England, in 1756 and died in Charleston in 1829.

According to the Preservation Society of Charleston, Rouse was a tanner, and served as the city’s “intendent” or mayor from 1808 to 1810. There is a plaque in the First Baptist Church of Charleston commemorating William Rouse’s service.

Dr. Rouse’s parents were Cordelia Lucretia Reeves (1849-1920) and George Washington Rouse (1838-1914), who was, according to his obituary in the Charleston News and Courier,  a Confederate officer and reputed  Confederate spy and, in his later years, a Charleston magistrate.  For a period, at least, he operated a restaurant in Charleston. He, his wife and his children, including Dr. Rouse, are buried in Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery<.

According to Dr. Rouse’s obituary in the same paper, he held the rank of major in the Army Dental Reserve Corps and was for 40 years a member of the South Carolina National Guard (Charleston, South Carolina News and Courier, 4 November 1948, p. 2).

Blessing and Co. would have been a logical choice of photographic studio for a southern man. Though born in Frederick County, Maryland, John Philip Blessing (1835-1911) spent 25 years living in Texas with his brothers, where he operated photography studios in Galveston and Houston. and served with the Galveston Confederate volunteers and the Confederate navy.

According to his biography in The History of Washington County, Maryland, Blessing returned to Maryland in 1879 with his Texan wife, Mary A. A. Sterns, and opened a photographic studio in Baltimore at 214 N. Charles Street. His daughter, Rosa, married his partner, Henry Fenge. Blessing is buried in St. Lukes Episcopal Church cemetery in Brownsville, Washington County, Maryland.

Dentists I Have Not Known: Dr. Charles William Hartwig

This cabinet card photograph is one of a deliciously obscure collection of dentists’ and physicians’ portraits from Baltimore that recently began appearing on an internet auction site.

Son of German immigrant grocers Ann and George D. Hartwig, Charles William Hartwig (b. 18 December 1866, Md.) was a Baltimore physician who also studied the newly-emerging profession of dentistry. He received his DDS degree from the University of Maryland’s Department of Dental Surgery in March 1886–the date marked on the back of the photograph.

He obtained his medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1889. Among his multiple appointments:  Resident Physician at Bayview Hospital, Resident Physician and Assistant Surgeon at the Presbyterian Ear, Nose and Throat Charity Hospital, and demonstrator of anatomy, anesthestics,  and dentistry at the University of Maryland. His private practice  was at 111 W. Saratoga Street. (The Medical Annals of Maryland, E. F. Cordell, 1903, p. 432)

Hartwig seems to have been a progressive physician. In 1895, a Baltimore American article speaks of his successful treatment of a diphtheria case with an anti-toxin, a revolutionary treatment developed by Emil von Behring.

In 1896, Dr. Hartwig published an article on the surgical treatment of ear infections entitled “Aural Catarrh.” Drawing on experience from his practice at the Presbyterian Hospital, he urged that hearing loss could  be avoided if aural swelling and pain were  relieved immediately by opening, draining and cleaning the ear drum–apparently not a widespread practice at the time (Maryland Medical Journal, v. 33, pp. 367-368).

Passport applications and a mention in a medical journal indicate that Hartwig traveled to Europe at least once, in 1914, at the same time as another, much more prominent physician, the learned and charismatic medical professor Dr. Ridgley Brown Warfield (1864-1920), scion of an old Howard County family who had graduated from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1884 and taught there.

Young Hartwig sat for his portrait at the studio of John Philip  Blessing (1835-1911) and Franklin Kuhn, located ca. 1882-1886, Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers tells us, at 46 N. Charles Street. Hartwig chose a vignetted bust style for his portrait, as had Dr. John C. Uhler. Hartwig likely encountered Uhler as a student at the University of Maryland, where Dr. Uhler was an instructor in the Dental Department.

Uhler, Hartwig, and the others must have met one another during their schooling in Baltimore and in the practice of their professions. Perhaps they exchanged portraits upon graduation. But who collected these Baltimore portraits of dentists and doctors of the 1880s and kept them so carefully all these years? Not that I’m complaining.

Hunt’s Methodist Church, 1908

A Miss Clara Miller mailed this real photo post card (RPPC) of Hunt’s Methodist Church in the Green Spring Valley area of Baltimore County to a Miss Clara Chew, Brunswick, Md. in December 1908.

According to the church’s historical sketch, a group of Methodists began meeting at the home of Phineas Hunt here in 1773. The stone building was erected in 1874 on the site of several previous log meeting houses.

The church, located near the junction of Joppa and Old Court roads, is considered to be located in Towson, but the church itself refers to its location as “Riderwood.”The Baltimore County Historical Sociey erected a  historical marker to remember this spot as one of the earliest Methodist meeting-places in Maryland.

The structure has clearly undergone expansion and renovation since this homemade photograph was taken.

According to the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties, it was rebuilt in 1933 following a 1932 fire.

Dentists I Have Not Known: Dr. John C. Uhler

This cabinet card portrait of Dr. John Charles Uhler (1846-1917) is one of a number of photographic portraits of dentists from, based on the period ink identifications, what appears to be the same collection.

Born in Baltimore to merchant Erasmus B. Uhler (1818-1883) and Elizabeth (Deady) Uhler (1816-1893), John Uhler’s claim to renown is that he was among the first faculty appointed to the  School of Dentistry established at the University of Maryland in 1882.  Starting as Demonstrator of Prosthetic Dentistry, he became Associate Professor of Prosthetic Dentistry in 1900.

The new school was built upon the institutional foundation of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.

Said to be the oldest school of dentistry in the world, the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery  was established 1839-1840 with a charter from the State of Maryland. With this charter, the organizers created a new degree, the Doctor of Dental Surgery. Uhler obtained his degree there in 1867, and established a private practice.

Howard’s 1873 The Monumental City includes an advertisement for the college, then located at Eutaw and Lexington streets, that depicts a Second Empire-style three-story building with mansard roof.

Uhler was elected one of the first members of the Executive Committee of the Maryland State Dental Association in 1883.

In 1910, he lived with his sister-in-law and niece, Clara and May Uhler, at 938 Madison Avenue. Uhler retired from his practice and from teaching about 1913, and is buried near his parents in Greenmount Cemetery.

It is unclear whether the studio, Russell & Co., is related to that of William C. and Dora Russell. Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers dates the addresses to 1888; the presence of “new” means the photograph had to have been taken after the re-numbering of Baltimore streets that occurred in 1887.

The operator chose the popular vignette style for this head-and-shoulders portrait, burning out the background to create a soft, floating effect. Light falls from the upper left to create shadows that emphasize the Uhler’s appealing eyes, which gaze away from the camera as if he were thoughtfully contemplating the past and future of dentistry’s development.