T. Buckler Ghequier


T. Buckler Ghequiere (later in life he dropped the final ‘e’) was born June 14, 1854, the grandson of Robert Carey Long, Sr. (1760-1833), generally considered Baltimore’s first native professional architect. Long’s son, Robert Carey Long, Jr. (1810-1849) was well known in his time, and in ours, as one of the most important architects in the development of the profession. Sarah, the daughter of Robert Carey Long, Sr. by his second marriage, married Louis J. Ghequiere at St. Paul’s Church on July 28, 1853 and had a son — Thomas Buckler — nearly a year later.

Ghequiere was proud of these family connections in the architectural profession. At the age of about 22 he wrote an informative article for the American Architect and Building News (June 24, 1876, p. 207) fondly praising his grandfather and uncle, obviously admiring their works, naming a number of them and reciting family history in these two earlier generations. If he had had an offspring who became an architect, this surely would be recognized as a dynasty.

T. Buckler Ghequiere worked for J. Crawford Neilson for five years. He opened his own office about 1876, and he advertised “making a specialty of church work [as well as] plans for all kinds of buildings and superintends the erection of the same.”  In 1882 his residence and office address was at No. 49 St. Paul Street, later re-numbered as 227 St. Paul Street, his address in the Baltimore City Directory until his death. From about 1897 to 1902 he was in partnership with Howard May (1879-1941), who later formed a partnership with Wilson Levering Smith (1873-1931) as Smith & May. George A. Frederick, in his 1912 Recollections, mentioned that Ghequiere was among the deceased.

Ghequiere’s earliest work, discovered to date, was when he was but 20 years old and it was in Warrenton, VA, some distance from Baltimore:  an enlargement with a recessed chancel for St. James’ Episcopal Church which was designed in 1853 by James Renwick, Jr., of New York, a remarkable commission in distance and importance for an architect so young.

Ghequiere admired the architectural works of the past and regretted their loss and alteration; today we would call him a preservationist. By 1877, his age about 23, one of his earliest commissions was the remodeling of the Richmond County (Virginia) Court House in Warsaw. Writing about this project in the American Architect and Building News (June 23, 1877) he noted that the Court House was built in 1748 and

it may . . . be [of] . . .  interest to you and to the profession at large, for me to put together in readable shape some items about its history and structure, especially as the plan is somewhat peculiar; besides which it does not appear to me to be exactly right to alter such buildings without preserving in some suitable way . . .  a description of them as they now stand and have stood for a great number of years. Especially does it not seem right regardlessly  to destroy them or heedlessly to add to them, when we recollect that many important events have occurred within them in our country’s history, and that men of note, whose deeds have left enduring marks behind them, have spent the majority of their working hours in them. Therefore, before their ancient shape and appearance are so changed by the progressive wants of those who now use them as to leave but a vestige remaining, it becomes our duty to those who have preceded us, to give the world some record of them, that they may not be clean forgotten.

He continued with a brief history of the northern neck of Virginia, noting its landmarks, still prized to this day, and the history of this Court House. He recited its materials and dimensions in detail and its conditions, and described its unique plan, illustrated with a plan drawing. He presented a drawing of its principal elevation with a verbal explanation of the same. He concluded the article with a stated intent to describe other historic buildings of the region.

With earlier and later commissions in Virginia he must have had  strong connections there. The Historic Architects’ Roundtable has found several Virginia Episcopal churches by him in the last three decades of the nineteenth century, and he claimed even more. Most of his work was in Baltimore and within Baltimore’s area of influence. Several Episcopal church works in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, indicate a valuable patron or friend there, probably the Bishop who had come from Baltimore.

Ghequier’s residence for Charles J. Baker, Athol, on Wickham Road just off Frederick Road in West Baltimore, is a major residence, 1880, in an imaginative medieval revival style.  Two church masterpieces by Ghequier are the Dent Memorial Chapel for the Charlotte Hall Academy in St. Mary’s County, MD, and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church near the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, 1883 and 1888, respectively.  These careful Gothic and Romanesque designs with brick interiors place them in the “high Victorian” styles, inspired by William Butterfield and other English church architects.  A new deep recessed chancel in 1885 for his uncle’s Mount Calvary Episcopal Church in Baltimore is in the same style, ingeniously penetrating the adjacent row house.

His Romanesque Parish House, 1885, on the first block of Cathedral Street for old St. Paul’s Church is one of his best known buildings.  Throughout his professional life he made true his words, when he opened his practice, “making a specialty of church work.”

Two secular works include a new Charlotte Hall Academy main building, 1896, in St. Mary’s County, MD, in a Colonial revival style (now demolished).  Its predecessor was designed in the Greek revival style by Edmund G. Lind in 1857, which replaced its predecessor of 1788.  All were built on the same unique foundation.  Another Colonial revival secular building is his Montgomery Mutual Fire Insurance building in Sandy Spring, Montgomery County, MD, 1904.

Like his parents and grandparents, he was a life-long active member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore, originally designed by his grandfather (its 1814 walls were incorporated into the present building by Richard Upjohn in 1856 after it burned in 1854). For many years he served as librarian for the parish’s famed choir of men and boys.

James T. Wollon, Jr., AIA