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16 Altamont Terrace
Photograph by Kathleen McKenney, courtesy of the City of Cumberland

Northwest view of 16 Altmont Terrace, June 1974
NPS Photograph

The construction of the Greek Revival style house at 16 Altamont Terrace in 1851 signifies "frontier" Cumberland's developing connections, culturally and physically, to the east coast. During and after the American Revolution, many of the Founding Fathers pointed to the democracies of Greece and Rome as a model for the fledgling United States--legally, artistically, and architecturally. Imitating buildings like Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, the columns and pediments of Greek and Roman architecture began appearing on schoolhouses, banks, mansions, hotels and private residences throughout the United States near the beginning of the 19th century.

By the 1850s, newer styles were slowly challenging the popularity of Greek Revival architecture, but in rural and frontier areas like Cumberland, the Greek Revival style still dominated. In 1842, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad had connected Cumberland and the rest of Western Maryland to Baltimore, and in 1850, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was finally completed, connecting Cumberland to the large markets of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Cumberland's economy immediately felt the positive effects of these new transportation corridors.

Located on the western frontier of the United States, Cumberland's architectural sensitivities might have lagged behind large East Coast cities, but with the economic prosperity new transportation corridors brought, the city's residents still had money to spend on large new houses. Built in 1851 for businessman John Oliphant, the house at 16 Altamont Terrace is an excellent example of vernacular Greek Revival architecture. With a large, five bay symmetrical facade and a traditional "center-hall" plan, the house's most striking feature is its Greek Revival front entrance, a free standing porch of four Ionic columns supporting a classically unadorned architrave, frieze, and cornice.

In 1889, the house was purchased by Charles James Orrick and his wife. Reflecting the development of Cumberland and its growing needs, the house was used as the first facilities of what later became known as Memorial Hospital (formerly known as the Home and Infirmary of Western Maryland). The medical facility functioned there for only about two years. Later, in the 19th century, 16 Altamont Terrace was split into apartments, which remain today as the building's current use.

16 Altamont Terrace is used for private residences, and is not open to the public.

Preservation in Cumberland Cumberland Architects The C&O canal and B&O Railroad Cumberland History


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