The Merchant’s House

Where merchants conducted their business in early Fell's Point

The origins of 1732 Thames Street can be traced to the purchase by Robert Long of lot #45 on a portion of which the structure stands. Long purchased the land from Edward and Ann Fell soon after they laid out their farm into building lots. He built his home on the Ann Street side of the lot in 1765, but in 1781 sold his house and the unbuilt portion of the lot facing on Thames Street to William Travis. In 1784 Matthew Travis purchased from William the western portion of the unbuilt lot facing on Thames Street.

Construction of the house occurs during in the last decade of the 1790’s. Today 1732 Thames is a rare surviving example of a unique 18th Century building type that offers a picture of how the flourishing merchant class in Fell’s Point lived and conducted business on the waterfront. Its interiors, almost miraculously, are intact with few changes to the floor plans and its late 18th Century architectural Federal detailing and trim.

The building, three and a half stories, is constructed of brick with double hung windows having stone window sills and heads. The stone window heads are a particularly common architectural element that was used from about 1790 up to about 1810. The brick façade of 1732 Thames is laid in Flemish Bond, a more expensive decorative brick bonding pattern that was reserved for the principal elevation of a building.  

Shop fronts in Fell’s Point in the late 18th Century simply consisted of double hung windows on the ground floor positioned on either side of a shopfront door. In most cases the doors were either a single or a pair of solid six panel wood doors that entered directly into the shop space. As was typical of the time commercial spaces were not heated with fireplaces being only reserved for living areas.

Entry to the upper residential floors was through the sally port on the east side of the building to an entry off the sally port. The major living space was on the second floor front room facing Thames Street. Here the trim and architectural detailing is more elaborate than in the rest of the house with its delicately carved mantel piece, chair rail  and imposing over door trim.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are not currently any specific tour hours, but you can contact us to set-up a private tour that is within CDC guidelines.