Appealing sources of color touch city now, all year

June 27, 1994|By JACQUES KELLY

What a typical Baltimore color is the shade that grass lawns turn this time of year. It looks like grass that has been through a toaster oven.

Baltimore possesses some other hallmark colors this time of year -- oranges, reds, greens and blues.

The red of the street A-raber wagons is a clear, clean shade, brighter than the strawberries or watermelons these guys haul from alley to alley.

Another blinding summertime red is the canna bed in Preston Gardens at St. Paul Place and Lexington Street.

One of the all-time colors is the orange-red of the Domino Sugars sign on the Locust Point waterfront. The neon atop Hammerjack's bar and the Senator Theatre is snazzy, too.

If you're having a bad day and need a color jolt, visit a neighborhood snowball stand. Look at the flavoring bottles and check out sky blue and blood orange, then order something normal like grape or egg custard.

There are plenty of green roofs in Baltimore. The round one on the Basilica of the Assumption, 410 Cathedral St., is one of the most visible. It stands out, especially when viewed from the perspective of the Orleans Street Viaduct.

There's a great 1950s bluish-green cast at the Commercial Credit Building, St. Paul Place and Saratoga Street.

There is no missing the blue-green metal roof atop Harrison's Pier 5 Clarion Inn near the Columbus Center.

A famous Baltimore green is the serpentine stone used in the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church at the northeast corner of the Washington Monument. This stone turns up wherever there are deposits of chrome in the ground, like the formations just north of Baltimore. Some nice green paving stones (Belgian blocks) have gone into Thames Street near Recreation Pier.

A few weeks ago, I heard another discussion about the many tones of green. A painter said, "You know, it's the color of the green on the shutters of Anne Tyler's house in Homeland." It turns out the well-known novelist has sage green shutters on her 1920s house.

Baltimore enjoys something of a national reputation in the canvas industry for its preference for dull green porch awnings. Look for them all over the Rodgers Forge neighborhood. Plenty of light pink geraniums here, too.

Baltimore owns a great color in Oriole orange. With black, it is one of the most handsome color combinations you'll see. My favorite version of it has nothing to do with professional baseball. Sun taxicabs, which operate out of the Yellow Cab fleet, are all repainted in this orange and black scheme, the same shade as the Princeton Tigers.

Also found in Baltimore are the various mica-studded hues of Formstone. They come in light fawn, gray, reddish, greenish. Sometime Crayola ought to experiment with a wax mixture called Formstone. Might sell here.

Baltimore is a brick city. Depending upon age and variety, our bricks range from burnt orange (St. Benedict's Church on Wilkens Avenue) to chocolate brown (the Waxter Center on Cathedral Street).

Whole neighborhoods were built in one basic tone of brick. The 1950s brought Northwood's endless rows of houses constructed in light masonry, the color of steamed shrimp.

There are even a couple of bricks commercially named for Baltimore. The Homewood recalls the fine Federal mansion at 3400 N. Charles St. The Charlcote was created 70 years ago for houses along Charlcote Place in Guilford. The deep wine red bricks can still be ordered.

For clay tile roofs reminiscent of the Mediterranean, look at Mount Royal Station on Cathedral Street, the cone roof atop Lovely Lane Methodist Church at St. Paul and 22nd streets, SS. Philip and James Church, 2801 N. Charles. St., and the Berea Temple, Madison Avenue and Robert Street.

The shiny bright appliance white of the light rail cars offsets their All American blue stripe. For more mass transit shades, the Baltimore Streetcar Museum is the place.

That Alexandria Blue, really a deep emerald, on the 1944 Baltimore Transit Car is a color you won't forget. So is the United Railways and Electric Co. carmine on the much older streetcars.

Speaking of museums, the canary yellow on walls (maybe with a glob of orange added) inside the 1904 building of the Walters Art Gallery is an excellent hue. It really shows off the art and flower arrangements done by volunteers.

And one last color -- the blue of the shirts Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke so often wears. It's a political trademark.

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