Architect Biographies

Haskell, George C.

An obscure name has emerged as one of our forgotten but now better documented architects whose work spanned the turn of the 20th century:  George C. Haskell.

George Clifton Haskell was born in 1852 and we know nothing of his early life except that he married Martha Carson, Charles Carson’s sister. Charles Carson, as Dixon & Carson (1871-1880) and later on his own, has long been considered among the leaders of the architectural profession in Baltimore, 5 years Haskell’s senior and one of the founders of the Baltimore Chapter of AIA.

We can guess that Haskell, like Carson, apprenticed under Thomas Dixon or Dixon & Carson, and allied himself with Carson, his brother-in-law, when the Dixon & Carson partnership was dissolved in 1880. In the City directory for 1886, he is identified as a draftsman in Charles Carson’s office.

The earliest Haskell commission we have discovered is 1892, the year following Carson’s untimely death at the age of 44. Until 1906 Haskell’s office was in the Central Savings Bank building, still standing on the southeast corner of Charles and Lexington Streets where so many early architects and the AIA had their offices. It was designed by Carson, and it was the intended site of his office. By 1907, Haskell’s office was in the Wilson Building, a block away at the northeast corner of Charles and Saratoga Streets, another building attributed to Carson. Perhaps Haskell was an important designer of either or both of these buildings.

Charles Carson and Joseph Evans Sperry were forming a partnership when Carson died. Sperry’s office was also in the Central Savings Bank Building. Haskell’s work in the 1890s very much resembled Sperry’s in that period.

Haskell’s former Grace Methodist Church on W. 36th Street at Hickory Avenue in Hampden (1899) is now converted to offices. Its Romanesque details are strikingly similar to Haskell’s former Concordia Lutheran Church, two years later, on west Franklin Street, a little gem overlooking the expressway.

The earliest Haskell commission we have found was Posner’s Department Store (the predecessor of Stewart’s) at 215-217-219 W. Lexington Street, a triple address still occupied by a single structure, now with an early 20th century façade of terra cotta, the Schulte United Building. One could guess today’s 215-217-219 W. Lexington Street may be merely a new façade on an earlier Haskell structure.

The Posner’s Store rendering published in the American in 1892 is signed “BARNES” ingeniously on the curb in an architectural hand. With little doubt, that is George Summerfield Barnes (1870-1954) who became Haskell’s partner by 1905, shortly after the Great Baltimore Fire. In the City Directory for 1901, Barnes is listed as an architect in the Central Savings Bank Building.

Among the first attributions we have of the new partnership is the former Trinity English Lutheran Church, still standing at W. Baltimore and Pulaski Streets. The last attribution we have found is dated 1927, a residence in Guilford.

George C. Haskell and Haskell & Barnes have some 34 attributions in our file (hardly a whole career) and many are still standing: churches, private residences, a club, firehouses, the former University of Maryland School of Dentistry, a dormitory, hotels, a hospital, stores, offices. None is famous, but all are competent designs, competently detailed.

The Haskells had at least four children: Annie, perhaps named for her Aunt Annie Carson, Charles Carson’s wife; George C. Jr., named for his father; David Carson, named for his grandfather Carson; and Lee Carson. They lived in Bolton Hill until 1906, then in Mt. Washington until 1912, then Rogers Avenue near Pimlico Avenue until 1920 when they moved to Glyndon.

George C. Haskell died in 1925, then living in Glyndon, and is buried with his wife Martha Carson Haskell, and their four children and spouses in Loudon Park Cemetery. We know of no successor firm and we are pleased to have discovered this architect and his excellent work.

by James T. Wollon, Jr., AIA including research by Lisa Jensen Wingate, John McGrain and Ken Short

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