Pratt Street Power Plant
601, Pratt St., E., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Pratt Street Power Plant is a complex of three structures located at Pratt Street and Pier 4 at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The total complex measures 132’ by 326’. All of the structures are brick with terra cotta trim and steel frame construction. The northern building features rustication at the street level, vertical bands of windows set into quoined terra cotta surrounds, a heavy cornice with oversized triglyphs, and a slate mansard roof with wall dormers. The central boiler house is characterized by a stepped gable roof capped by a monitor, irregular window arrangement, colossal pilasters, corbeled brick work, a blank arcade, and four immense smoke stacks rising above the roofline. The southern engine house has arched windows, brick pilasters, a stepped roofline culminating in a pediment, and a new metal and glass entrance canopy and ticket kiosk. The interior of the complex retains significant open spaces and industrial artifacts, while adding fanciful new architectural elements in keeping with its new use. The southern engine room has been turned into a grand entrance hall with curving central stair leading to mezzanine level shops and café. The boiler house features spiral stairways encircling two of the smokestacks and a variety of attractions including an arcade gallery, special effects features, and vendors on various levels set within original steel trusses and girders. The northern building houses large theatre spaces, a cafeteria, and offices. Also on the property is a small ticket kiosk which does not contribute to the significance of the resource.
The Pratt Street Power Plant is a notable, turn-of-the-20th-century industrial structure of excellent proportions, siting, and detail. Built between 1900 and 1909, the Power Plant, which is made up of three structures, is architecturally significant as: a massive industrial structure with Neo-Classical detailing; one of only eleven existing structures that survived the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904; and an example of outstanding design by the noted architectural firm of Baldwin & Pennington (among others). The Power Plant played an important role in the development of Baltimore City, because it served as the main source of power for the United Railways and Electric Company, a consolidation of smaller street railway systems, that influenced the provision of city-wide transportation and opened up suburban areas of Baltimore. The Power Plant housed many important innovations in supplying electrical power for Baltimore’s streetcars and later served as a central steam plant for the Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Company, a predecessor of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (now BGE). The four smokestacks of the Power Plant have long been a visual landmark on Baltimore’s skyline, and a physical reminder of the early industrial character of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The building was adapted in the 1980s for use as a unique urban entertainment center, reflecting the change and evolution of activities at Baltimore’s waterfront.