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John Appleton Wilson photograph collection

Identifier: PP 0003


This collection primarily contains photographs of 19th century Baltimore buildings, from newly-built townhouses and estates (many designed by the architectural firm of J.A. and W.T. Wilson), to examples of historic and vernacular architecture.


  • 1884-1926


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use. However, public use of the photograph album is restricted to a reference photocopy.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

John Appleton Wilson (1851-1927) was a professional architect and historic preservationist who served on the Baltimore Municipal Art Commission, and was a corresponding secretary of the Maryland Historical Society. He was also a deputy governor of the Society of Colonial Wars, vice-president of the Sons of the Revolution, and historian for the Society of the War of 1812. Wilson was in partnership with his cousin, William Thomas Wilson, and their architectural firm known as J.A. and W.T. Wilson, Architects designed many buildings, primarily houses, in Baltimore at the end of the nineteenth century. J.A. Wilson also worked on restoration projects, notably the old Senate chamber in Annapolis, Maryland.

Born in Baltimore, the son of the Rev. Franklin and Virginia Appleton Wilson, John Appleton Wilson attended private schools, and trained for his profession at Columbian College (Washington, D.C.) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He married May Wade and their home was at 1013 St. Paul St. in Baltimore. They had a daughter, Virginia Appleton Wilson.


3 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the estate of Miss Virginia Appleton Wilson, 1958.

Related Materials

MS 833, Wilson papers, 1790-1852

MS 1066, Wilson and Sons cashbook, 1869

MS 1149, William Wilson account book, 1788-1795

MS 2278, William Wilson papers, 1787-1854

Processing Information

Some of the photographs were previously part of the subject vertical file but were re-compiled into present collection in circa 1979, retaining folder subject headings from vertical file arrangement scheme. There are recurrent topical headings throughout the collection, but these are not the basis for arrangement; subjects and dates from the collection's whole time span are scattered throughout.

Scope and Contents

The collection is housed in 6 boxes, and spans the years 1884 to 1926, with the bulk of the images made in the 1890s. There are approximately 800 images which are predominantly photoprints, with a few negatives. Most of the photographs are captioned, and many include a date. One photograph album is present containing 486 images; due to the brittleness of the album pages, reseachers should use a photocopy of the album for reference.

The collection is strongest in images made in the late 19th century of buildings in Baltimore, including many historic houses and several African American churches. There are also sites and structures from Maryland counties including Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Cecil, Frederick, Howard, Prince George's, and Washington. The collection forms an excellent record of turn of the century Baltimore buildings, from newly-built 1880s townhouses and estates (many designed by the architectural firm of J.A. and W.T. Wilson), to examples of historic and vernacular architecture. Both exterior and interior views of many buildings are featured. Included are domestic scenes at "Oakley," the Wilson family residence.

The photograph album is dated 1901 to 1916 and documents Wilson's travel abroad (England, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, and Egypt), as well as Maryland scenes. Maryland locations include the towns of Boonsboro and Keedysville in Washington County; the town of Blandensburg in Prince George's County; the town of Beverly in Worcester County; and the towns of Annapolis and Arundel-on-the-Bay in Anne Arundel County. Buildings featured include the Colored Ward Spring Grove; the Enoch Pratt Free Library Branches 16 and 17; Canton Box Factory; President St. station; and the ruins of the Maryland Institute and the Hurst building after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.

Guide to the John Appleton Wilson photograph collection
Under Revision
Katherine Cowan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-01-4: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States