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NEWS
July 1, 2013
While perusing an urban planning website recently from my office here in Honolulu, I learned with great sadness that the iconic and unique Baltimore Formstone building material is to be banned under new city design guidelines. Having lived my early adult years in Mount Vernon on St. Paul Street after a stint overseas in the Peace Corps in the mid-1990's, I have fond memories of Charm City, its quirky eccentricities, its incredible people and its unbelievable neighborhoods. No other streetscape better identifies Baltimore to the outside world than a block of Formstone-clad row houses with their scrubbed white stoops and sprinkled with a few painted screens throughout.
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NEWS
July 1, 2013
While perusing an urban planning website recently from my office here in Honolulu, I learned with great sadness that the iconic and unique Baltimore Formstone building material is to be banned under new city design guidelines. Having lived my early adult years in Mount Vernon on St. Paul Street after a stint overseas in the Peace Corps in the mid-1990's, I have fond memories of Charm City, its quirky eccentricities, its incredible people and its unbelievable neighborhoods. No other streetscape better identifies Baltimore to the outside world than a block of Formstone-clad row houses with their scrubbed white stoops and sprinkled with a few painted screens throughout.
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NEWS
December 4, 2012
In 1985 I bought a small house in the Cedmont neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore. At the time, I knew nothing about Formstone ("Formstone would be banned on new buildings under proposal," Dec. 1). I have found it to be beautiful, especially up close when it includes subtle shades of pale pink, blue, and gray with sparkles. Several years ago, a storm damaged a small piece of Formstone. I had some difficulty finding a person who could repair it properly, and I am pleased the Formstone artist blended in the new with the old. Baltimore has many charms we can all enjoy, and I'm very pleased to live here and have a unique home.
NEWS
December 4, 2012
In 1985 I bought a small house in the Cedmont neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore. At the time, I knew nothing about Formstone ("Formstone would be banned on new buildings under proposal," Dec. 1). I have found it to be beautiful, especially up close when it includes subtle shades of pale pink, blue, and gray with sparkles. Several years ago, a storm damaged a small piece of Formstone. I had some difficulty finding a person who could repair it properly, and I am pleased the Formstone artist blended in the new with the old. Baltimore has many charms we can all enjoy, and I'm very pleased to live here and have a unique home.
NEWS
December 4, 2012
If the unfortunate Hon-trademarking flap of 2010 wasn't enough to get Baltimore's beehive in a bunch, surely the news that city bureaucrats, without much thought about the matter, have proposed banning Formstone in new construction will do the trick. Is Formstone a great aesthetic innovation? No. Was its proliferation several decades ago a failure of good taste? Maybe so. But if it was a failure, it was Baltimore's own. It was an affordable ornamentation, an expression of a blue collar optimism that things were on their way up and that our houses, even the modest attached variety, should reflect that faith in upward mobility.
NEWS
By Dan Rodricks | February 24, 1992
I love a passionate woman and, after talking with Lillian Bowers, I get the distinct impression that no woman could be more passionate.About Formstone.She's the self-proclaimed Queen of Formstone, and people have taken to calling her that. She is making what she calls a "comic documentary" about the ubiquitous plaster coating that smothered block after block of rowhouse Baltimore. She has two working titles for the video. One is, "Formstone: Friend or Faux." The other, which I prefer, is, "Formstone, Taken For Granite."
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun | December 1, 2012
Frankly fake but authentically Baltimore, the Formstone that swaths many a rowhouse may seem low-brow or even tacky to some. But should it be illegal? A proposed overhaul of the Baltimore's zoning code would do just that, banning the faux stone facades on any newly constructed rowhouses. While the city says this would upgrade neighborhoods, some see it as a slap at an endearing if downscale bit of Baltimoreana - akin to prohibiting Natty Boh at the corner bar or beehive hairdos at the beauty parlor.
FEATURES
By Karol V. Menzie and Randy Johnson | May 14, 1994
It's an unfortunate fact of life for old houses that when something begins to go wrong -- say, a patch of shingle siding needs replacement -- the owners may choose a short-sighted solution that is even "wrong-er." And subsequent owners are left to deal with the problems.That's the case for a reader in Baltimore:"Four years ago we bought a Victorian house (built in 1910) that originally had a brown shingle exterior," she writes. "In the late '50s formstone was applied on top of the shingles to the entire house.
BUSINESS
By Charles Cohen and Charles Cohen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | July 27, 1997
By all accounts, Aado Vaigro shouldn't have been up on the scaffolding.It wasn't because the temperature threatened to crack 100 degrees, nor was it because the 68-year-old was stepping between buckets and trowels on shaky planks three stories in the air.It was because he was installing Formstone, the fossil of fake house fronts.In the 1990s, the working words in restoration are natural brick and exposed beams -- not the glittery faux stone that has been giving homeowners intent on rehabbing so much trouble.
NEWS
By Robert A. Erlandson and Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writer | June 23, 1994
Tall, leafy trees cast cool shadows across the two-story house sited on a broad, well-trimmed lawn in rural Kingsville, where thick woods provide a verdant backdrop for the neighborhood's Formstone jewel.Formstone -- in Kingsville?Right. There, among the clapboard and shingle Cape Cods, the brick ranchers and split-levels and the upscale new McMansions, stands the area's only known example of the sculpted, multicolored, pseudo-stone facade that came to define faraway rowhouse Baltimore."Mom and Dad got older, and they wanted a house that was pretty maintenance-free," recalled Harry Sanders, whose parents' Jerusalem Road home got "the treatment" in the early 1970s, when thousands of other Formstone homeowners were pulling the stuff off.And what a treatment it got from David Pidcoe, Mr. Sanders' cousin, who was in the business.
NEWS
December 4, 2012
If the unfortunate Hon-trademarking flap of 2010 wasn't enough to get Baltimore's beehive in a bunch, surely the news that city bureaucrats, without much thought about the matter, have proposed banning Formstone in new construction will do the trick. Is Formstone a great aesthetic innovation? No. Was its proliferation several decades ago a failure of good taste? Maybe so. But if it was a failure, it was Baltimore's own. It was an affordable ornamentation, an expression of a blue collar optimism that things were on their way up and that our houses, even the modest attached variety, should reflect that faith in upward mobility.
BUSINESS
By Steve Kilar and Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun | December 1, 2012
Frankly fake but authentically Baltimore, the Formstone that swaths many a rowhouse may seem low-brow or even tacky to some. But should it be illegal? A proposed overhaul of the Baltimore's zoning code would do just that, banning the faux stone facades on any newly constructed rowhouses. While the city says this would upgrade neighborhoods, some see it as a slap at an endearing if downscale bit of Baltimoreana - akin to prohibiting Natty Boh at the corner bar or beehive hairdos at the beauty parlor.
CLASSIFIED
By Marie Marciano Gullard, Special to The Baltimore Sun | May 4, 2012
A multicolored grouping of four clapboard rowhouses in Fells Point stands out like Gerbera daisies against the Formstone and brick fronts of its neighbors on either side. Architect Myrna Poirier calls one of these gems home and will soon invite visitors beyond her threshold as part of the Historic Harbor House Tour of Fells Point on Mother's Day. In keeping with the facade of her home, the interior is a color-infused, uplifting space. "Color is so important," she said. "A lot of people don't realize what color does for your spirits," pointing to an open interior 50 feet deep, with soft pastel paint on the walls in each room, richly embellished textiles from all over the world hanging on them and the morning sun bursting through ceiling skylights.
MOBILE
By David Simon, Special to The Sun | March 11, 2012
March 11, 2012 Seven-baker-twenty-four unit turns at Mosher and rumbles past that stretch of Appleton Street where Gene Cassidy took two in the head for the company, the first one stealing his eyesight, the second lodging in his brain beyond the skill of a surgeon's knife. Cassidy was 27 then, not even four years on the job, strong and lucky and hard-headed Irish enough that he refused to do the obvious and inevitable thing. He did not die. At University Hospital that night, the other patrol officers and detectives were told it was certain, that their friend would not make it. But Cassidy breathes still, and Appleton and Mosher looks much as it did in October 1987, when Cassidy tumbled out of his radio car to jack up a man wanted on an assault warrant.
FEATURES
By Marie Marciano Gullard, Special to The Baltimore Sun | January 5, 2012
Most people, unless headed to a specific address, will simply drive past the two-story row houses that line the curb along Fleet Street in East Baltimore. Few are wider than 15 feet; their only mark of individuality is usually found in the variety of front doors. Many of these houses, dating to 1910, are examples of exterior brick restoration, while others still bask in the Formstone glory of 1940's exterior home improvement. Alex Dyadyura, a computer programmer with Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, purchased one of these houses less than a year ago. Secure in his position after almost three years of service, the time was ripe for moving from his rented house in Patterson Park.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Erik Maza, The Baltimore Sun | June 23, 2011
Six months after its owner started a renovation, Barfly's Pub is finally open. The Locust Point bar, which has taken over Rafters' old space on Fort Avenue, had its grand opening last Friday and has been in opening mode for about two weeks. It has been remade as a casual neighborhood bar with an ample beer menu and several wine options. Already, it's drawing small crowds, even on the Monday night I went. Owner Michael Leeds bills it as an "upscale dive bar," but Barfly's still needs some time to develop the personality of a dive and spruce itself up to be "upscale.
FEATURES
By Karol V. Menzie and Randy Johnson | October 29, 1994
Removing formstone is usually an issue for owners of brick rowhouses, but some time ago we got a letter from the owner of a frame house that had been covered with the concrete-like substance applied like icing and carved into stone-like blocks.Since formstone is not an original surface, we're strong advocates of removing it, and restoring the surface underneath.That's usually fairly easy in a brick dwelling -- unless the formstone was applied over soft brick or over a large crack.The frame-house owner wanted to restore the home's Victorian look.
BUSINESS
By Linda Garman-Weimer and Linda Garman-Weimer,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | June 13, 2004
When Loretta Stachowski noticed her Canton rowhouse's Formstone facade had cracked and faded, she envisioned a colorful future for the cement house covering that became a part of Baltimore's residential architecture during the 1940s. So a few years ago, Stachowski and her husband, Richard, decided to have the Formstone painted. It was a less expensive choice than the more trendy effort to remove the faux stones that hide many of the brick facades in Baltimore. And Stachowski liked being part of something new. "It's brighter, it's cleaner, and it's different," said Loretta Stachowski, 64, whose South Ellwood Avenue home is done in an ivory and brick-red scheme with black shutters and window planters.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Chris Kaltenbach, The Baltimore Sun | November 6, 2010
As a child, Lorraine Whittlesey was a member of TV's Peanut Gallery, helping make a star of an excitable, squeaky-voiced marionette named Howdy Doody. Next weekend, she'll be sitting in the audience at the Theatre Project , watching the world premiere of her musical based on a contentedly clueless comic-strip Pinhead named Zippy. The symmetry of such a creative continuum isn't lost on Whittlesey. She laughs heartily at the notion that there's a straight line connecting Howdy, the loose-limbed child's puppet that played sidekick to Buffalo Bob Smith for decades, to Zippy, an often befuddling, if not befuddled, observer of modern society whose non-sequiturs have become unwitting pop-culture catchphrases.
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