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Hebrew Orphan Asylum (1874)Maryland State Archives
Architect Biographies

Roby, Henry Albert

1844–1905

Lupus & Roby are among our least known architects because the partnership lasted but 6 years due to the death of Edward Lupus.  Few of their works still stand and few others are known by prints and photographs. Those designs that are known are equal in quality to any by their contemporaries.

Born in Massachusetts in March 1844, Henry A. Roby joined the 1st Maryland Regiment of the Confederate Army at age 18, fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg and serving through the end of the Civil War. When Roby was imprisoned following the war, his mother, Mrs. Mary C. Roby, petitioned Ulysses S. Grant for his release, on May 8, 1865 writing, “I appeal to you to allow my son Harry Roby to return to his home in Baltimore.”

Roby began work as a draftsman in 1868 at 81 Park Avenue, his mother’s home since at least 1865. By 1870, Roby is identified in directories as an architect with an office at 155 Park Avenue and in 1871,

Edward Lupus and Roby began a partnership that would continue for six years, up until Lupus’ death in 1877. One of their earliest projects was a shooting range and bowling alley for the Schuetzen Park formerly on Belair Road near the then Baltimore City limits, following work Lupus had done at the park in 1866. The Schuetzen Association included 800 members from first- and second-generation German families. The pair continued to work primarily within the German community.  The Baltimore General German Orphan Asylum, formerly at Orleans and Aisquith Streets (1873), is known by prints and photographs. The Hebrew Orphan Asylum (1874) still stands at Rayner & Dukeland Streets in west Baltimore, its exterior in good condition and little changed.

Roby continued to work as an architect in Baltimore through at least 1880, moving his office from 49 Lexington Street to 49 St. Paul Street in 1879 while residing at 197 Park Avenue. During the 1890s, Roby resided in Lebanon, Pennsylvania where he had a second short-lived partnership, Roby & Richter, with Abner A. Richter of Reading, Pennsylvania. A rare example of Roby’s later work is the 1896 St. Katharine’s Church at East Lancaster Avenue & North Aberdeen Avenue in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

By 1900, Roby had returned to Baltimore where he lived at 891 Park Avenue, with his mother Mary C. Roby, his wife Lucia M., their daughter, and a servant, Hanna Gibson. To the end of his life, Roby remained active in the Baltimore Catholic community and Confederate veteran organizations. He composed several patriotic poems before his death in June 3, 1905 at his residence on Park Avenue. Roby is buried in Philadelphia, according to his obituary in the Baltimore Sun June 4, 1905.

(Baltimore street numbers cited above prior to 1886 are the old street numbers; after 1886 they are the same as today’s street numbers.)

By Eli Pousson, on behalf of Baltimore Heritage.

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