When: Friday, October 21 / 1:00 am – 1:30 pm
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Categorized under: Virtual Histories

Windy Gates Estate (now Devon Hill) and its Olmsted Gardens

Join BAF and Baltimore Heritage for a special Virtual History presentation!

Image: Windy Gates country home from front in 1905 and from west terraced garden circa 1914

(Image on the left courtesy of the US Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and on the right courtesy Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens, Thomas Warren Sears photograph collection)


The Windy Gates country estate of the Jenkins family from 1882 to 1981 was the centerpiece of a much larger property that in its heyday, lolled down the rolling hills stretching along Lake Avenue from Roland Avenue to Falls Road. On the heels of their work on the Roland Park neighborhood to the south, the Olmsted Brothers were employed from 1902 through 1906, to do extensive landscaping design for the property, producing a detailed plan for the estate and specifications for approximately 150 different planting beds.

When the heirs wished to sell the unique 20-acre property forty years ago, they offered a unique contest awarded to the developer presenting the most inspired and pleasing plan. Based on designs prepared by Peterson and Brickbauer Architects, the Azola Company was selected to redevelop the site into the Devon Hill Residential Community. They saved much of the historic landscaping, converted the historic Queen Anne-style country house and its carriage house and barns into condominium units and residential homes, and added additional residential buildings in keeping with the scale and historic character of the site.

This presentation by Thom Rinker will draw on the extensive material, vintage drawings, and photographs found in the records of the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Archives of American Gardens, the Jenkins family archives, and the surveying firm of S.J. Martenet & Company. He will share unique insights into this Baltimore County treasure that still retains a quiet serenity and gentility over the landscape.

This special program is hosted in partnership with the Maryland Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in celebration of their 50th anniversary and the Friends of Maryland’s Olmsted Parks & Landscapes (FMOPL) as part of their Olmsted 200 programming, a nationwide celebration of the firm’s work and influence, on the Bicentennial Anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birth. There will be an in-person tour of the site on Sunday, October 2, 2022 as part of Architecture Month with Doors Open Baltimore – see separate registration at: https://www.doorsopenbaltimore.org.


Thom Rinker and his wife lived in Devon Hill for over 15 years and is the author of a recently released three-volume book set entitled Devon Hill: The Pleasure of Living in an Historic Landscape. The books present a detailed narrative of the evolution of the landscape and architectural history of the property as it has evolved over its 175 years. Volume I covers the 100-year period the Jenkins family and its decients owned Windy Gates, Volume II covers the subsequent period after 1983 when the Devon Hill community has maintained and enhanced the property, and Volume III contains a review of the correspondence, field notes, and landscape plans in the Olmsted Brothers’ project files.


The Baltimore Architecture Foundation and Baltimore Heritage, Inc. have been hosting this Friday Virtual Histories Series of live lunchtime presentations and virtual tours since the start of the pandemic as a way to share an understanding of architecture, preservation, and history of the Baltimore region with the public. Tickets are donation based. We encourage you to give what you can to support these organizations to help make up for lost tour and program revenue from the pandemic and create more virtual programs like this.

Upon registering you will receive an email confirmation and a Zoom link. If you do not receive a link, please contact mhudson@aiabalt.com. If you do not contact us at least 1 hour prior to the start of the program, we cannot guarantee admittance.

Hope you can join us!