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Maryland's National Register Properties

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Coca Cola Bottling Company of Baltimore Building
Inventory No.: B-5270
Date Listed: 10/23/2013
Location: 2525 Kirk Avenue, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1938-9; 1953-7
Architect/Builder: Architect: Jesse Markham; Builder: Cummins Construction Company
Description: The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Baltimore Building (Coca-Cola Building) was completed in 1939, bearing the hallmarks of the Art Moderne style, which convey the quality of streamlined horizontality: rounded corners, horizontal stone banding, and stylized relief panels with Coca-Cola iconography. Constructed to house both the administrative and industrial activities of the company, the building covers most of its 2 ½-acre, trapezoidal site. Clad in variegated red brick laid in a Flemish Bond pattern, it features gridded, aluminum-frame windows and a stone parapet that conceals the flat roof. The principal, northern block of the building—which formerly housed the administrative offices—is three full stories in height, which gradually step down to the south and east to enclose the one- and two-story bottling works. The building is supported on a structural system of steel columns and trusses, which carry concrete slabs. The red-brick clad façade is embellished with wide limestone stringcourses which belt the building at the top of the windows on the first story, and at the bottom of the windows on the third story. The third-story stringcourse is fluted. Narrow limestone stringcourses are located at the top and bottom of the windows on the second story, and at the top of the third-story windows. Projecting courses of brickwork extend the lines from the horizontal window division around the third story. The corners of the building are rounded, further exemplifying the Art Moderne style. It is crowned by a brick parapet wall, topped by limestone coping. The flat roof is covered in a combination of an asphalt-rolled membrane and crushed gravel. Mechanical equipment and scattered skylights are located on the roof, in addition to a large chimney and freight elevator penthouse. Both are clad in brick; the chimney is further accented by three limestone stringcourses and a concrete cap. Fenestration throughout the building typically consists of large, horizontally oriented, multi-light, fixed windows with brushed-aluminum frames. The fenestration pattern is original to the building, yet a few of the original frames were replaced with glass block in parts of the warehouse. The primary entrance is located on the northwest façade in a three-bay-wide, full-height projecting section of the main block. This block is symmetrical, and is flanked on either side by a single, recessed bay. The center projection is comprised of double-leaf, aluminum-and-glass doors with decorative aluminum muntins, topped by paired transom that continue the decorative aluminum detailing from the doors. The entrance is set in a splayed, fluted limestone surround, topped by a fluted limestone lintel. A limestone panel above the entrance is carved with the Coca-Cola logo with its iconic, cursive script. It is accessed by four stone steps with brushed aluminum handrails, which lead to a small landing paved with flagstones. Six-light windows, set in aluminum frames over through-wall vents, flank the entrance to the north and south. Square limestone panels carved with a Coca-Cola bottle motif top each of the windows. The first story of the projecting section is clad in ashlar limestone blocks. The second story features a central twelve-light window, flanked by four-light windows, and the third story contains a central nine-light window flanked by three-light windows. All openings in the projecting section are set in square-edge, limestone surrounds. Brushed-aluminum, multi-light industrial windows are centered on each story of the bays to the north and south of the projecting section. The warehouse extends southwest of the main block for four additional bays on the second story, and eight on the first story. Each bay holds a large opening filled with glass block. The northeast elevation is divided between the five-bay main block to the west, a central three-story section, and the warehouse to the east. The three-story section is three bays wide, and moving east to west a Significance: The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Baltimore Building is locally significant for its association with broad historical patterns in the physical and economic growth of Baltimore in the 1930s. It portrays physical and economic trends of industrial growth in the city during the mid 20th century, and is tied to the growth of the Coca-Cola Company in its regional bottling markets, which collaborated to expand the marketing presence and manufacturing efficiency of this important American product. The Coca-Cola Building illustrates the prevailing pattern of commercial and industrial development in the City of Baltimore in the years immediately preceding World War II. It rode the crest of a wave of development—commercial storefronts, light-industrial complexes, and automobile-dependent enterprises—that grew along the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad corridor in the eastern half of the city. This particular portion of Baltimore burgeoned in the interwar years as a principally middle-class residential neighborhood linked to the central city via commercial and transit corridors. The Coca-Cola Building, in addition to the adjacent structures built along East 25th Street and Exeter Hall Avenue, was part of a commercial interest that complemented the residential nature of the surrounding area. Collectively these buildings were indicative of urban growth patterns typical in the American interwar period: greater decentralization and dependence upon the automobile, which arose before the large-scale suburbanization following World War II. The Coca-Cola Building is also significant as a representative example of the Art Moderne style. Because the Coca-Cola Company, its associated bottling companies, and many other large corporations chose to adopt this style for their factories and office buildings, this particular structure relates to a greater context of corporate identity and branding as they continued to emerge throughout the 20th century. Therefore, the building resonates with associations both architectural and cultural, and its high degree of physical integrity allows it to successfully convey those relationships.


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