Friday, September 14, 2012

The NW Corner of Baltimore & Calvert Streets

The NW corner of Baltimore and Calvert  Streets has always been a busy one. As a matter of fact, up until the early 1800s, Baltimore Street was called Market Street and was the main shopping district until the Lexington/Howard street area became popular in the later part of the 19th century.

The first notable building to arise at the northwest corner of Baltimore and Calvert Streets was the Baltimore Museum, opened in 1829 by Rembrandt Peale after the sale of his family's original Museum on Holliday Street to the city of Baltimore for municipal offices. For over 40 years the Museum was operated by a succession of entrepreneurs - including, for a time, P.T. Barnum - until it was destroyed by fire in 1872.

Photo of a lithograph from my collection of E. Sachse's view looking west from Calvert Street on Market (Baltimore) Street circa 1850. This copy was made by A. Hoen and Co. sometime in the mid 1900s.
Similar view of Baltimore Street in 2012.
Photo of an original lithograph from my collection of view looking north on Calvert Street from Baltimore Street.
The Baltimore Museum after 1872 fire. Photo source Maryland Historical Society.
The site was purchased a year later by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which commissioned local architect E. Francis Baldwin to design a building capable of holding all its various departments under one roof. Baldwin originally projected a five-story structure with arched window heads on every floor, but the railroad's growth in the late 1890s required that the building grow, too.  By the time it opened in 1882, it consisted of seven floors with arched window heads on only every other floor. Further railroad expansion required the addition of two more floors under a mansard roof in 1888. The building was destroyed in the 1904 Baltimore fire, after which the railroad moved its offices to a new building on North Charles Street.

 The Baltimore Street corner became the site of the Emerson Hotel, Joseph E. Sperry's entry in Baltimore's race to copy New York's Plaza Hotel. The 17-story Emerson opened in 1911 and closed in 1969. It was demolished in 1971.  
The Emerson Hotel was built, legend has it, because one sweltering hot afternoon in 1910 Capt. Isaac Emerson (the Bromo-Seltzer inventor) was dining in the Belvedere Hotel and became so hot that he took his coat off. The management reminded him that it was a hotel rule that gentlemen had to wear coats. So the cantankerous old captain allegedly said: "the hell with you, I'll build my own hotel." And so he did.

After years as a parking lot, the Bank of Baltimore Building was built and opened in 1989. 
Today the building is the main office of SunTrust Bank.
Looking north on Calvert Street towards Monument Square from Baltimore Street in 2012.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Tale of Two West Side Breweries

August Beck/Frank Steil Independent Brewing Co. 

August Beck opened a brewery on Garrison Lane, now the 200 block of Franklintown Road, in 1865. The brewery was successful and in 1876 he built a three-story mansard-roofed home for his family and workers. By the 1900s, the brewery was sold and now called the Frank Steil Independent Brewing Co. The brewery closed due to Prohibition.

The brewery complex had a concert hall, a beer garden, a restaurant, stables for 10 horses,
a large brew house, two large ice houses and a beautiful 3 story brick mansard roof mansion.
The site today. It would appear that most of the buildings on the left side of the complex have survived, although in a very altered state.
The old mansion is covered in formstone, but is still standing.

Eigenbrot Brewery 

 Joh was German born (according the the 1870 census, he emigrated from Baden. He was 43 in 1870) and opened a brewery in the 101 Willard Street, between Hollins Street and Frederick Avenue.  Brewing began here in 1873 and ceased with the onset of prohibition.  Nearly 100 barrels were rolled out each year.  Brands brewed here included Extra Pale Adonis and Stock Lager.  The brewery was expanded and renamed after Ferdinand’s daughter’s husband, Henry Eigenbrot.   The 1880 Census shows Henry living with Ferdinand’s daughter, Louisa on Wilkens Street in Snake Hollow Baltimore.  He was 34 and Louisa was 24.  The census shows that Henry was born in Maryland, but both parents were German born.  Henry inherited the operations at the death of Ferdinand.  

The brewery complex in the later part of the 1800s.
The brewery today.

Update: The row houses on Lombard Street have been torn down. The view of the brewery looks much like the old photo above now.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

E. Rosenfeld & Co. Faultless Night Shirts & Pajamas

This incredible faded advertising sign can be found on S. Paca Street just above Lombard Street. Both sides of the building advertise Faultless Night Shirts and Pajamas. This is another old ghost sign that I believe could be one of the oldest in Baltimore. By all the old advertising I was able to find online, it seems Faultless Pajamas were very popular back in the day.
View from Redwood Street looking south.

Close up of the bottom of the faded ghost sign.

A view of the same building from Lombard and Greene streets looking north east.
Same view in 1936. By the way, that's historic Davidge Hall in the foreground. It has been in continuous use for medical education since 1813, the oldest such structure in the United States.
1911 paper ad for Faultless Night Shirts.
Another early 1900s ad for Faultless Night Shirts & Pajamas.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Very Old Ghost Sign

Simon's Plaiting Establishment ghost sign on the north side of Clay Street between Park and Liberty.

From what I can tell, this is one of, if not the oldest, ghost signs still visible in Baltimore city. For a long time I had no idea what it said other than Simon's...but Simon's what? I knew it was very old by the clothing the two women in the advertising sign were wearing. So, I started researching Simon's clothing and eventually found this in a 1901 Baltimore city directory.

I was very excited to solve this riddle of what Simon's actually was. The location of the business was just around the corner from the old sign. I knew immediately by the address that this building had been torn down many years ago, most likely for  The Charles Center urban redevelopment project.

Here's the block the business used to be on before being torn down and what it looks like now.

Simon's Plaiting Establishment was located in one of the small buildings on left above (north of) the 21 story Baltimore Gas & Electric building.

Same view today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Engine House #6

This engine house predates the Baltimore fire department by four years and was the third building used by the Independent Fire Company volunteer firefighter to house their equipment. It is an architectural landmark in its neighborhood, as its tower and clock are visible for miles. The Engine House was built in 1853-54 by the architects Reasin and Wetherald. Its 103-foot brick Italian-Gothic tower is said to be a copy of Giotto’s campanile in Florence, Italy. Engine House #6 is also significant for the period of time which it represents. It was built during the period when volunteer fire companies reached the peak of their rivalries and gave Baltimore its notorious name, "Mobtown."

Friday, April 6, 2012

Old Baltimore Postcards

A beautiful real photo hand colored postcard of City Hall, early 1900s.
A pull out booklet postcard of the Battle Monument, date unknown but would guess early 1900s

The pull out booklet contains several photos of Baltimore buildings and places
The Lyric before additions where added
The Bromo Tower before the 51 foot bottle was removed due to structural damage cause by it's weight
The Tower Building around 1920
Baltimore Street looking west from Gay street
Baltimore Street looking west from Howard
Baltimore Street after being rebuilt from 1904 Great Fire      
Baltimore Street looking west from Calvert

Broadway looking south from Baltimore Street

Gay street looking north east from Front street
NW corner of Gay street and Forrest
Oyster boats in Harbor
Light Street piers south of Pratt before street was widened after 1904 fire

Monday, January 23, 2012

Forgotten Streetcar "Then & Now"

This old streetcar had been long forgotten by the time I took my first photograph of it in 1991. I had long been fascinated by the wonderful textures created by weather wearing on an old building or, in this case, an abandoned streetcar. At the time, I was trying to photograph anything old, dilapidated, rusting, or peeling. I would drive endlessly around Baltimore looking for that perfect abandoned building or place. I found this old streetcar on Falls Road in the winter after it had been revealed by the leafless trees. I had driven by that way almost daily for years and never noticed it sitting back and behind the rusting hulk of the old Lombard Street bridge. Although the scan is pretty bad, the photo has always been one of my favorites and has hung in my living room for 20 years. When I started this blog my partner mentioned that I should do a "then and now" about this streetcar. My first thought was "no" because what was left of it that I could see from driving by, looked to be very little. I changed my mind one day and finally got out to take another picture, 20 years after the first. I was amazed! I noticed right away that the small trees on the right side of the picture had grown large enough to actually tilt the streetcar off to it's side a bit. The roof had caved in from many years of storms and the rust spots had grown bigger. Things had also been piled up around it, to further obscure it from the road. I have no idea what type of streetcar this is, but it looks similar to these old Peter Witt cars. If anyone knows more about it, please let me know!

Streetcar 1991
Streetcar 2011
March 8 2012, UPDATE:
I asked a contact on Flickr who is very knowledgeable about old Baltimore Transit to take a look at this post to see if he knew anything about this streetcar. Here's what he had to say:

Dear Kris,
This car is actually a steel trailer streetcar from the 1920s. It had no motors or controls. It was pulled behind a regular motorized streetcar. The transit company ran trains of streetcars of up to 3 cars similar to the light rail today. The trailers were quite heavy and were difficult to pull since the streetcars that operated here were not heavy duty enough for them. As a result they were pulled from service in 1932. The car in your photo sat on Reisterstown Rd. for many years and was the home of "Jacks Vegetable Stand". I remember seeing it out there. It now rests in a sad state of deterioration on Falls Rd. at the streetcar museum.