What would you think if someone said you could buy a house for just a dollar? That there would be all sorts of strings attached? That it would be a dump? That you would be an urban pioneer? All of those would be correct.


In 1976, Baltimore launched the Dollar House program, where people could buy an old rowhouse on the harbour for just a dollar, with the agreement that they’d spend $50,000 on renovating the house, and live there for a year.imageThis program completely changed the face of Baltimore’s Inner Harbour and it soon became a desirable place to live. Instead of rotting wharfs, there was a new Science Center. Instead of run-down warehouses, HarborPlace rose along the waterfront. These neighbourhoods are now home to some of Baltimore’s most expensive houses.

Several downtown neighbourhoods were targeted for the Dollar House program, and each of them is now an urban oasis of beautifully restored and renovated houses.image


On September 29th, the Baltimore Architecture is presenting a one-day seminar on the success of the Dollar House program. Some of the leading proponents of the program in the 1970’s will be speaking about how it all came together to become a model program that is still being replicated today. Stoke, in the UK, is currently offering houses for £1. Here. In addition to the speakers and panel discussion, there will be lunch and a bus tour of the Dollar House neighbourhood.

For more information about the Dollar House Program or for tickets to the event, please click here.

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Meg Fielding

Meg Fielding writes the local interior design and lifestyle blog Pigtown Design and is the past president of the Baltimore Architectural Foundation. She enjoys dual citizenship with the US and the UK.