Coca-Cola Company Baltimore Branch
1215, Fort Ave., E., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Coca-Cola Company Baltimore Branch Factory, constructed from 1921 to 1935, is an early 20th century industrial complex constructed to house Coca Cola’s syrup-making operations. The complex, which spreads over a 9.4 acre site south of East Fort Avenue in an industrial area of Locust Point, is composed of a two-story brick syrup factory/sugar warehouse and an earlier two-story brick mattress factory (The Simmons Building) that Coca-Cola acquired and adapted in the 1930s. Coca-Cola extended the 1921 Syrup Factory, designed by Arthur C. Tufts, to the south in 1935 when they built the Sugar Warehouse addition, designed by Robert & Co. The facades of both the Simmons Building and the 1921 Syrup factory are detailed with a modular pier and spandrel system; the Sugar Warehouse addition is a brick box with punched windows. The Simmons Building and the Sugar Warehouse employ steel frame construction; the 1921 Syrup Factory had a reinforced concrete structural system. The interiors of the Simmons Building and the Sugar Warehouse addition consist of open plan space; the interior of the Syrup Factory consists primarily of open plan space with partitioned offices along the perimeter of the south and west walls of the second floor. In a manner typical of industrial complexes, the Coca-Cola Company Baltimore Branch Factory has been altered over the years. Glass block occupies many of the openings that earlier housed industrial steel sash windows; in 1948 the Syrup Factory was expanded at the northeast by a new addition that repeats the pier and spandrel articulation of the 1921 building. Minor, post-1948 additions include two ground level bridges linking the Simmons Building with the Syrup Factory. The only demolition that has occurred is the removal of a small office/weigh station at the front of the complex on East Fort Avenue. None of these changes impair the original form, construction, and interrelationship of the buildings; the complex continues to be a strong local representation of an important facet of the operations of a major national corporation.
The Coca-Cola Company Baltimore Branch Factory on East Fort Avenue, a complex of two 1921 buildings with a 1935 addition, is a notable reminder of Baltimore’s industrial growth in the early 20th century. Completed in 1948, the complex housed syrup-making operations as well as the Coca-Cola Company’s chemistry department. The Baltimore Branch Factory was an integral element in the production of Coca-Cola "a sublimated essence of all that America stands for." The Coca-Cola Factory is significant as a plant emblematic of the regional branch plants that fueled Baltimore’s economy and tied it to the national economy of the 1920s. Its operations provide a good example of the industrial synergy of raw materials and transportation that drew production to Baltimore during the first half of the 20th century. The period of significance of the locally significant complex extends from its initial construction in 1921 through its final substantive addition in 1948.