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Culture & Artsby Fern Shen12:02 pmMay 25, 20220

29th Street rowhouses are gone – but live on via 3-D modeling

Flying a drone around the structures before, during and after their demolition by Johns Hopkins, Taylor Houlihan captured footage she used to make a unique virtual record of them

Above: An image from Taylor Houlihan’s 3-D scanned model of the now-demolished 5-19 West 29th Street rowhouses.

No one can see, touch or live in the rowhouses at 5-19 West 29th Street anymore.

They were knocked down earlier this month by Johns Hopkins University, which acquired them methodically over the past two decades.

Thanks to 3-D modeling specialist Taylor Houlihan, however, you can see and experience – virtually – what these 111-year-old structures in Charles Village were like in their final days.

And not just from photos shot from the street.

Through drone-scanning and photogrammetry, Houlihan produced a three-dimensional version of these seven historic rowhouses that you can pick up and rotate like a toy.

Rowhouses on 29th St. Baltimore by Taylor on Sketchfab

Go to her Sketchfab site and check it out, along with Houlihan’s other 3D models of garments, landscapes and architecture.

(Baltimore residents will be especially interested to see other local buildings modeled on the sist, including the Old Waverly Town Hall, the Vernon Pumping Station off Wyman Park Drive and an assortment of old Baltimore fire stations.)

Her models even have a virtual reality mode for those set up to use it. (Readers who give it a try, please report back on the experience.)

Houlihan’s drone captured multi-angle views of the West 29th Street block before the demolition crews came, including an aerial shot showing the completely collapsed roof of one of the units.

While the structure was being clawed down, Houlihan (who lives in the neighborhood) returned with her drone and continued to capture views from 360 degrees around it.

With walls ripped away, her camera caught views of the interiors, exposing remnants of  the lives once lived there – an old space heater, a small bathroom sink, a pink wall, some white wainscoating along a stairway.

Collapsed roof of one of the 29th Street rowhouses. (Taylor Houlihan)

Collapsed roof of one of the 29th Street rowhouses. BELOW: A view of the West 29th Street rowhouses facing northwest. (Taylor Houlihan)

A view of the West 29th Street rowhouses facing northwest. (Taylor Houlihan)

Stoops and Chandeliers

As has been reported here, here and elsewhere, neighbors and preservationists protested the demolition plan, but Hopkins said the structures were too far gone to save. The University has disclosed no information about future use of the now-vacant lot.

After the buildings were reduced to a pile of bricks, debris and upended white marble stoops, a spokeswoman was asked what, if anything, was to be salvaged from the demolished buildings.

“There was no immediate interest from local firms in the brick or marble,” Jill Rosen, director of media relations, said.

But working with local salvage firms, she said, their contractor was saving much other material. Rosen described it in an email:

Stained glass windows, door knobs and hardware, light fixtures, chandeliers, globes and wall sconces, and miscellaneous wood work, including columns, mantels and fire place surrounds, along with metal fixtures including fireplace covers, exterior metal railings and grates.

29th Street

A rowhouse interior during demolition. (Taylor Houlihan)

Rosen was also asked about tree damage.

After the chair of the Baltimore City Forestry Board said, while demolition was underway, that demolition crews had damaged two mature magnolias on the site, Rosen acknowledged the errors.

The contractors, she said, had not followed “a tree protection plan.” The Brew has asked to see this plan, but Rosen has yet to provide it.


At The Brew’s request, Houlihan provided some still photos of 5-19 West 29th Street, and supplied this blurb about herself and her amazing work:

Taylor Houlihan is a Baltimore-based digital modeler with a passion for 3D scanning. She uses photogrammetry to digitize architecture, cultural garments, and landscapes. Through a neighborhood group, she discovered that 5-19 West 29th St rowhomes were going to be demolished by Johns Hopkins University. Reading the passionate comments on the post and news articles inspired her to document the historic architecture before, during and after its razing.

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