MHT File Photo, Undated Photo
Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower
312-318 W. Lombard Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Period/Date of Construction:
Architect: Joseph Evans Sperry
In style, the Emerson Bromo-Seltzer Tower is Romanesque. It is constructed of yellow brick with stone trim, and is topped with projecting brackets which support an octagonal crenellated tower. Just below the bracketing is the clock, reputed to be the largest four-dial gravity clock in the world, with faces 24 feet in diameter. Beneath the clock, on each side, is a stone balcony supported by brackets which form arches over the four windows. Continuing down the façades, there are four arched lintels and stone sills. Above the second floor, there is another stone balcony with four swag decorations. Until 1936, the building was crowned with a giant revolving Bromo-Seltzer bottle, fashioned of steel and illuminated at night. Although the bottle was removed after complaints about its lack of tastefulness, the tower remains an important element in Baltimore’s skyscape.
Captain Isaac E. Emerson was a prominent Baltimore resident at the turn of the century, having perfected his headache remedy, Bromo-Seltzer. In 1891 he had organized the Emerson Drug Company and by the 20th century had built the Bromo-Seltzer Tower. It was designed by Joseph Evans Sperry and built in 1911. It is unique because it was inspired by the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy, and because its height of 15 stories made it the tallest building in Baltimore until the 1930s. As such, it became a visual landmark for several generations of Baltimoreans as well as a symbol of the city to other Americans. The tower is also significant for its association with Emerson, who was instrumental in the organization of the Maryland Naval Reserves in 1894. He commanded a ship manned by the Reserves during the Spanish-American War; hence the title "Captain."