Spectacular by any standard, the Houck Mansion is an architectural jewel within Frederick's beautiful 75 block historic district. Built in the early 1890s, six sisters, all the daughters of the late Ezra Houck, a wealthy, local financier, pooled their funds to build one of Frederick's largest and most magnificent homes.
The sisters engaged the services of J. A. Dempwolf of York, PA, one of the most influential and prolific architectural firms in the region. J. A. and his younger brother, Reinhardt, who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, were the recipients of many impressive design commissions both statewide and nationally.
The architects responded to the Houck sisters' request with drawings for a three-story, 8,000 sq.ft. brick mansion, replete with the most elaborate interior and exterior finishes of the day. There, the socially prominent sisters lived for the next 30 years, involved in philanthropic efforts, aided by cooks, housemaids, and a stableman.
While much of the Houck sisters' personal history has been lost to time, they are remembered as independent in an age of male dominance, and somewhat legendary for their construction of an all but imperceivable three-story brick "spite" wall on their southern property line which continues to obscure visibility of the mansion grounds from the commercial building next door.
When the last of the Houck sisters died in 1924, the property was sold at public auction to a group of physicians for $42,000 who established a professional building, which was something of a new concept at the time. This it remained until 2006, when the building was purchased by Eric and Carrie Delente, who removed the many walls and lowered ceiling constructed over the years, once again, giving way to the Dempwolf's magnificent floor plan and interior finishes.
Today, the mansion's original spirit of conviviality and culture is reignited by memorable gatherings at VOLT.