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Spencer F.Baird Residence
Spencer F. Baird Residence

Spencer F. Baird Residence (45)

1445 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Constructed in 1878-1880, demolished

Working as architect for the Smithsonian Institution during the 1870s brought Adolf Cluss in close contact with Assistant Secretary Spencer F. Baird. Later Baird became Secretary (1878-1887). He was also the curator of the U.S. National Museum, later designed by Cluss and Schulze.

In 1875, Baird asked Cluss to design a residence for his family along Massachusetts Avenue. As a sign of their friendship and mutual trust, Baird, preoccupied in Philadelphia during the summer of 1876, left the construction details entirely to Cluss by assigning him the rights of owner's agent. The large three-story brick townhouse, built during 1878-1880 at 1445 Massachusetts Avenue, featured sandstone lintels, a decorative Mansard roof and stairs which led to an elevated entrance. Somewhat unusual in its design, the residence featured a side projecting bay rather than a front one, allowing a side yard between Baird's and his sister's, Mary Biddle, residence, also built by Cluss.

Adjacent to the Baird house, Cluss constructed an office building in 1881 for the United States Fish Commission, also headed by Baird.

In the same block of Massachusetts Avenue Cluss also built a residence for Thomas Ferguson, who worked as Baird's assistant at the U.S. Fish Commission, and maybe also for James Ormond Wilson and Richard Morsell. Nearby also stood the Portland Flats apartment houses.

The block of row houses was set back from Massachusetts Avenue on a slight elevation. A service road called Highland Terrace ran in front of the houses, creating the effect of a boulevard with shaded trees separating the residences from the busy street.

This one block of houses on Massachusetts Avenue clearly reveal Adolf Cluss's prominent clients and social contacts.




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