Baker Mansion, Altoona Pennsylvania

Date added: August 18, 2023 Categories: Pennsylvania House Mansion Greek Revival
Later view of north and east elevations (1973)

The three-story, Greek Revival Baker mansion was constructed between 1844 and 1848 by the Elias Baker family. The Bakers migrated to Central Pennsylvania from Lancaster County in 18364 The move was made after Baker along with his nephew-partner Rolland Deller purchased Allegheny Iron Furnace. In 1844, Zlias Baker bought cut his partner's share of the Allegheny Fur nace and as though to display his new prosperity he embarked on construction of the mansion.

The mansion is significant in several areas. It's very location represents Pennsylvania's growing transportation systems in the mid-nineteenth century. Baker's mansion is situated close to what was once the main line of the Pennsylvania Canal at the eastern terminus of the Portage railroad opened in 1834. Hence roofing slate was ordered from Peach Bottom in York County, Pennsylvania, copper was transported from Baltimore, sheet lead from Philadelphia, and cement for plastering the interior from Johnstown west of the Allegheny's.

Baker Mansion exhibits several interesting construction techniques. The use of iron cast at Bakers Allegheny Furnace for door and window frames, as well as sections of the columns, this is quite unusual for rural Pennsylvania in 1844. Also the use of lead strips to seal the exterior masonry joints is most unique.

The Elias Baker mansion is now a museum and home of the Blair County Historical Society, and is one of the most impressive existing Greek Revival buildings in Central Pennsylvania.

Building Description

The Baker Mansion is a three-story structure constructed between 1844 and 1848. The house is Greek Revival style, 50 feet 10 inches by 75 feet 6 inches, constructed of dressed stone.

The south or front facade is five bays wide with six fluted Ionic columns rising to the entablature. The west elevation is five bays wide with a first-floor entrance located in the center bay. Located in the frieze and aligned with each bay is a Greek key or fret. In order to preserve the symmetry of this facade two of the first-floor windows are false, closed shutters being used to conceal the pseudo-opening.

The east facade is four bays wide with a false window and like the west elevation has a Greek key and the frieze is aligned with each bay. The north or rear elevation is four bays wide, with six square columns rising to the entablature. A second-floor balcony extends from the face of the wall to the pillars

The capitals, bases, and lower sections of both front and rear columns are cast iron, while the upper two-thirds of each shaft were constructed of brick with the fluting in the front columns molded over it in stucco. All the windows and door frames.are also made of cast iron. Lead strips were used to seal the joints in the exterior masonry.

The interior of the house is constructed with dividing walls of brick approximately nine inches thick. On the main floor, a hall divides the house down the center. A long parlor (with a sliding door divider) and a library are on one side; on the other, a dining room and kitchen, with stairs and a side entrance between them. Seven chambers and a bath comprise the second floor while on the third floor, there are four large rooms.

The original architect for Baker's Mansion was Robert Carey Long Jr., whose offices were located in Baltimore. Long was later dismissed because of procrastination in preparing the final plans. Baker then hired a Bellefonte Pennsylvania contractor, Charles Callahan, who supervised the completion of the mansion. The total cost of the structure was $75,000.

Baker Mansion, Altoona Pennsylvania Early view of south and side elevation
Early view of south and side elevation

Baker Mansion, Altoona Pennsylvania Later view of north and east elevations (1973)
Later view of north and east elevations (1973)