Stereoview of Eutaw Place Gunther Fountain by W. M. Chase

This hand-tinted stereoview depicts the Gunther fountain that once stood in the median of  the 1400 block of Eutaw Place.

The gift of merchant L. A. Gunther (b. abt. 1821, Hannovr, Germany) , this 18-foot-high bronze fountain between Mosher and Townsend streets has always been outshone by the larger, more elaborate “centennial” or “children’s” fountain in the 1800 block of Eutaw. Yet the two are often confused.

The centennial fountain, donated by wealthy residents of the newly-fashionable Eutaw Place neighborhood, was purchased from Mott & Co. of New York after it was exhibited at the 1876 Exposition in Philadephia (Scharf, History of Baltimore, 281).

By 1877, Eutaw Place extended northwest from Dolphin Street to North Avenue.

By the 1880s,” according to Baltimore architecture historians Mary Ellen Hayward and Frank R. Shivers, Jr., “the newly developed upper portions of Eutaw Place were the residential place of choice for Baltimore’s wealthy German-Jewish community. Owners of the city’s primary department stores, dry-goods businesses and garment manufactories–the Hutzlers, Hochschilds, Bragers, Gutmans, Strouses, Sonneborns, and Hechts, to name a few–built town palaces on Eutaw Place . . .” (The Architecture of Baltimore: An Illustrated History, p. 216).

Its handsome residences and park-like median were one of the prides of the city, and the centennial fountain, turned on May 19, 1877, was its centerpiece:

The outer basin is forty-eight feet in diameter, and the main fountain, standing upon a granite base, is fifty feet high and has three distinct basins, the water flowing from the two upper ones to the lower, which is ten feet in diameter and richly ornamented. A graceful female figure, standing in a shell, surmounts the work. Smaller figures on the surface of the water, and vases of flowers surrounding the outer basin, complete one of the most beautiful fountains in the city” (Scharf, 281).

Both fountains fell upon hard times as the area declined in the 1950s and 1960s. The centennial fountain broke apart under the weight of ice and snow in 1945.The Gunther fountain may have been melted down for its bronze during the second World War.

Eutaw Place’s fine residences began being bought and restored in the late 1990s. In 2005-2006, the Bolton Hill Garden Club was able to help Eutaw Place residents in their efforts to replace the Gunther fountain.

In 2009, the Club was able to bring a new fountain–now solar-powered–to the 1800 block, along with plantings. The 1800 block project won two awards from the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland in 2010. The Bolton Hill Garden Club has posted a slide show of the fountain’s restoration on its website.

Other images of the Eutaw Place fountains:

-Black-and-white photograph of the centennial fountain at the Maryland Historical Society

Postcard, Centennial Fountain, private collection

Chase stereoview of Centennial Fountain, George Eastman House

Name That Church, Mr. Chase

Identifying the church depicted in this William M. Chase stereograph was a bit of a challenge.

Like many urban churches, Ascension Protestant Episcopal Church, aka the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Ascension, has gone through fires, rebuilding, and changes in name.

The Norman gothic revival building, located at Lafayette Avenue and Arlington Street in Baltimore, was designed by Hutton and Murdoch, and opened in 1869. It burned to the ground on 12 May 1873 and was rebuilt and reopened in January of 1874 (Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County, pg. 522.)

Here is a photograph, owned by the Maryland Historical Society, of Ascension as it appeared in 1910. Note the missing spire.

The church was sold to the African Protestant Episcopal Church and became St. James Episcopal Church Lafayette Square in 1932 (Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress) .

The difficulty in identifying this church involved more than a name change. On the back of the stereoview, Chase lists all the views available in the series. The view on the reverse was supposed to be underlined, but it is not.  Only two churches are listed: the famous Mount Vernon Place Episcopal Church and the First Presbyterian Church, both of which are much more ornately high Gothic Revival than the one depicted.

An additional difficulty: the spire of the tower was apparently removed at some point, possibly when the church was rebuilt in 1873-1874. Some buildings listed on the back of this stereoview, such as the Second Empire-style City Hall, were not finished until 1875, making it difficult to pinpoint the date this card was published.

An article from the January 5th, 1874 Baltimore Sun about the reopening of the rebuilt church mentions that “the spire . . . has not been rebuilt as yet.” This strongly suggests the photograph was taken between 1869 and May 1873.

William M. Chase, View of Baltimore Harbor from Federal Hill

According to the Maryland Historical Society, this stereograph by William Moody Chase (1817-1901) was taken ca. 1875. Chase included it in several series of stereographs, including American Views and United States Views. The reverse lists 30 or so available cards in this subset, Metropolitan and Suburban Scenery, Baltimore, Md.

Ross Kelbaugh’s biographical sketch relates that Chase learned photography after the Civil War in the studio of R. D. Ridgeley. Chase’s  stereograph publishing company  was located at the corner of Lexington Avenue and Eutaw Place from 1872 to 1888.

During his long career, Chase photographed and/or published hundreds of stereoviews, including views of Washington, D.C., views along the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad and the Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad, and the series Art and Scenery of Central Park, New York and The Wide Wide World, and Picturesque Views of All Countries, which included images of notable scenes abroad. Among those who worked with him was a young David Bachrach.

Born 1 Dec 1817 in Shirley, Mass., to March Chase and Hepzibah Gleason Chase, William is believed to have enlisted in a Massachusetts regiment at the outbreak of the Civil War, but quickly became disabled and instead was appointed sutler (supplier) of the regiment. In 1894, Chase retired to his home state of Massachusetts. He died at his home in the Dorchester Heights, Boston, in November 1901. He is buried at Worcester Rural Cemetery, Worcester, Mass.

William traced some of his family’s history in a pamphlet entitled Reminiscences of the family of Moody Chase, of Shirley, Massachusetts. William’s father, March Chase, and Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Salmon Portland Chase (1808-1873), may have been related.

David Bachrach at the U.S. Naval Academy

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In 1868, David Bachrach, in the employ of stereographer William Chase, was requested by the commandant of the U. S. Naval Academy, David Porter, to photograph the graduating class.

“The people there built a studio for us,” recalled Bachrach in his 1916 memoir, Over Fifty Years of Photography, “and there I was really for the first time proprietor of a studio where only a good class of portraiture was made.”

This may be a portrait of an instructor, as the unidentified subject’s coat sleeves have the five strips of gold that indicate the rank of commander (Uniform Regulations, 1864,  United States Navy).

A naval historian who was able to examine the US Naval Academy’s class of 1868 album at the US Naval Academy Archives suggests that the officer in this photograph may be Robert F. R. Lewis (b. abt. 1828, Washington, DC; d. 23 Feb 1881) .

“Lewis at the time was a senior instructor in seamanship” at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, holding the rank of commander, he says, “and towards the end of this tour at the Naval Academy, he was advisor to the Superintendent on buildings and grounds.”

Lewis was attached to the Academy from 1866 to 1868. He was promoted to commander in 1867.

In 1869, he joined the command of the Resaca, in the Pacific Squadron.  At the time of his death at sea, Lewis held the rank of captain of the United States Steamship Shenandoah, part of the South Atlantic Squadron.

If this man really is Robert F. R. Lewis, then one can understand his grim expression. Lewis was appointed Midshipman in 1841, when he was about 14 years old.  The boy grew to manhood in on board ships and was schooled in battle before he was 20 , distinguishing himself in the Mexican War of 1848.  In 1849, he was ordered to the Academy to be examined. He passed, and immediately took up a post on the Vixen in the West Indies.

Lewis distinguished himself  during the Civil War, aiding in blockades at the mouths of the Mississippi and the St. Johns River,  off the coast of Texas, and at Charleston harbor.

Read more about Capt. Lewis’ career in two books available on Google Books:

The records of living officers of the US Navy and Marine Corps, 1870

The records of living officers of the US Navy and Marine Corps, 3rd edition, 1878

These excellent reference volumes were compiled by Lt. Lewis R. Hamersley, US Marine Corps, retired.

In William C. Darrah’s discussion of backmarks, this card’s reverse, with its “ornate groundwork” and “ovoid area for imprint” is located  ca. 1864-1870 (Darrah, Cartes de Visite in Nineteenth Century Photography).

A William Ashman Woman

Born in Maryland in 1863, William Ashman (1863-1902) learned his trade from his uncle, William M. Chase. After a stint with David Bachrach’s studio, Ashman left to start his own portrait business in 1877.

The studio continued to operate under the management of Ashman’s associate, Oregon M. Dennis, after Ashman’s death in Saranac Lake, New York.

This is my favorite Ashman cabinet portrait. He has posed her so that light throws the lines of her face into relief, illuminating  a middle-aged woman’s subtle, fading beauty.

William Ashman is buried in Druid Ridge Cemetery, near Pikesville, in Baltimore County, Maryland.