Identifying Phases 1, 2, and 3

This Polaroid from the early 1980s gives a good look at the classic entrance of 104 Woodland, complete with its wooden door. But how do we know it’s Woodland Ct.—and not Sharon Ct., Bryan Ct., or Morris Dr.? Each has its own unique architectural characteristics, which we’ll now review. And whether you’re looking at photos that were taken yesterday or 30 years ago, you’ll be able to spot the differences.

The buildings that comprise Steward Manor might look identical at first glance, but look closely enough and you’ll start to notice differences. In some cases, these differences are minor—in others, they’re significant stylistic variations.

This goes back to the very beginning, when Steward Manor was built. More importantly, it goes back to the three distinct phases of construction—each of which contains key identifying characteristics that we can recognize today.

Historian Jim Smart and I believe we’ve pinpointed the general order in which the buildings were constructed. As illustrated in the diagram below, Phase 1 included Woodland Ct. and Sharon Ct. east of Parkside Dr. Phase 2 was Woodland Ct. west of Parkside Dr.; and Phase 3 was Sharon Ct. west of Parkside Dr., Bryan Ct., and all of
Morris Dr.

 

How do we know this? Again, it’s in the architectural details—both outside and inside the buildings.

Let’s start at the beginning, with Woodland Ct. In fact, let’s take another look at that photo of 104 Woodland from the 1980s, and compare it to some I just shot last week:

Now let’s take an even closer look at some key characteristics:

Highlighted in the photo above are some of the specific traits that are unique to Phase 1., and characteristics that you can clearly see in the old Polaroid photo of this building.

In the case of 104 Woodland, the characteristics are the flagstone porch on either side of the stairs, the thin white concrete panels framing the doorway, and the decorative brick sections above and below the 2nd floor living room windows. But the easiest element to recognize is the flagstone. If you see flagstone at the entrance, you’re looking at Woodland or Sharon Ct. east of Parkside Dr. Those are the only 8 buildings in Steward Manor that have it, and those 8 buildings comprise Phase 1.

Now let’s take a look at what else differentiates Phase 1, as well as Phases 2 and 3. Here’s an overview that Jim and I have developed based on our research and observations:

PHASE 1: Sharon Ct. and Woodland Ct. east of Parkside Dr.
• Flagstone entrances
• Living room windows (height)
• Large bathroom windows
• Stucco panels (height)
• Painted concrete hallways with rub rails
• Vinyl tile hallway floors
• Regency blue American Standard bath fixtures

PHASE 2: Woodland Ct. west of Parkside Dr.
• Bricked entrances (no flagstone)
• Taller living room windows
• Large bathroom windows
• Shorter stucco panels
• Painted concrete hallways with rub rails (like Phase 1)
• Vinyl tile hallway floors (like Phase 1)
• White American Standard bathroom fixtures with revised Cadet toilets (flange bolt hole only)

PHASE 3: Sharon Ct. west of Parkside Dr., Bryan Ct., & Morris Dr.
• Simplified entrances (neither brick or flagstone)
• Tall living room windows
• Small/high bathroom windows
• Short stucco panels
• Bricked hallways (different than Phases 1 and 2)
• Ceramic tile hallway floors  (different than Phases 1 and 2)
• White American Standard bath fixtures

Another interesting difference we noted between Phase 3 and its predecessors is a subtle pattern in the exterior bricks. First, take a look at the side of this building—14 Woodland Ct. (Phase 2):

At first glance, you probably only see the standard brick pattern, don’t you? Look more closely, and you’ll note that there is a row of short-side bricks spaced five rows apart. It’s a subtle device that breaks the visual monotony of the pattern, and likely reinforces the structure. All of the buildings on Woodland Ct. (both sides of Parkside Dr.) and Sharon Ct. east of Parkside Dr. utilize this pattern. In other words, everything in Phases 1 and 2.

Now look at the difference in the pattern on Morris Dr. (Phase 3):

This one is more subtle. There’s still a row with short-side bricks spaced five rows apart, but rather than continuous short-side bricks, they alternate with lengthwise bricks. The following diagram illustrates this more clearly:

Are you thoroughly confused yet? 🙂 Let’s take a more visual look at some of the key characteristics that define the three phases of construction.

PHASE 1:
Flagstone porch entrances

PHASES 1 and 2:
Painted concrete hallways with rub rails

Vinyl tile hallway floors

PHASE 2
Bricked entrances

Taller living room windows and shorter stucco panels between floors

PHASE 3
Simplified entrances—neither brick or flagstone porches

Bricked hallways

Ceramic tiled hallway floors

Small/high bathroom windows

Again, this is all theory until it can be definitively confirmed with original blueprints, work orders, and the like, which I’m trying to track down via Steward Manor, Southern Management, Berman Enterprises, Prince George’s County, and any other sources that arise.

Another major clue can (and hopefully will) be found in one of the unlikeliest places—toilets. That’s right, toilets.

Steward Manor likely still has at least a handful of original toilets on its premises, and these should actually contain date stamps inside the tank and under the tank lid. I’ve asked a few of the maintenance men to kindly keep an eye out for original toilets during their routine calls; and if they’re able to record the dates they find, we may be able to establish an even clearer picture of which buildings were constructed first.

So there you have it. The subtle (and some not-so-subtle) differences between the three construction phases of Steward Manor Apartments. And after all these years, you thought every building was the same… 😉

If you have any additional information, and/or are aware of any errors noted above, please let me know! (info@stewardmanordays.com)

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About Richard Friend

I'm a graphic designer and creator of "Lost Laurel"—a collection of photos and print ephemera chronicling the countless stores, restaurants, and other long-lost merchants of Laurel, Maryland. I'm interesting in hearing from any former/current residents, especially those with vintage photos, literature, and recollections of the community. richardfrienddesign.com lostlaurel.com facebook.com/lostlaurel
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