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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Fred B. Shoken, 10/1983
Canton House
Inventory No.: B-3705
Date Listed: 12/13/1978
Location: 300 Water Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1923
Architect/Builder: Architect: Smith & May
Description: The Canton House is a 4 ½-story Colonial Revival-style building, with seven bays across the front (Water Street) façade and three bays across the side (South Street) façade. The exterior wall material is marble at the first story level and brick laid in Flemish bond from the second story up. The main entrance, in the second bay of the front façade, is surrounded by a pilastered architrave and two fluted Corinthian columns. The entranceway is capped with a plain marble lintel. A similar entrance, with the exception of the pilasters, is located in the central bay of the side façade. Shuttered triple window flank either side of the main entrance, each set containing a central window with 8/8 lights and side windows of 6/6 lights. The first story end windows of both façades are shuttered and have 8/8 lights. The marbled first story façades of the front and side are divided from the upper levels by a marble fascia. An identical fascia trims the top of the fourth floor. In the central bay of the second and third stories of the front and of the second story of the side, is a large window with sidelights. The central divisions have 8/8 lights and each sidelight has four lights. These windows are decorated with marble lugsills, a characteristic of all windows of the building, and arches of radiating voussoirs. The remaining second, third, and fourth-story windows of the front and side façades have double-hung sash with 8/8 lights and flat-arched lintels of radiating voussoirs. Fourth story windows of both façades are noticeably shorter than the others. The central window of the fourth story front is flanked by two circular details, one containing the date in which the Canton Company was founded, 1828, the other the date of the Canton House construction , 1923. A gabled parapet caps the front façade. In the center of the gable is a semicircular window with three divisions. The dinwow has an arched lintel of radiating voussoirs and a marble lugsill. In the roof level between the first and second, and second and third bays of the side façade are pedimented dormers. Each dormer contains a window of 8/8 lights. Significance: The Canton House was designed and constructed as the headquarters of one of Baltimore’s largest and most colorful businesses, the Canton Company. This business was established in 1828 by Peter Cooper, most remembered for inventing and manufacturing the Tom Thumb steam locomotive, and Ames Benney, a Boston entrepreneur. A number of top businessmen helped purchase 6000 acres of land, stretching from Harris’ Creek to Back River, which would serve as the pier and service area of the Canton Company. This speculative venture was dependent on plans that called for the rapid construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, conceived to revitalize the local goods movement being eroded by the recently opened Erie Canal and the Mississippi River steamship trade. by 1830 the State of Maryland endowed both companies with very liberal benefits and the beginnings of two commercial giants were firmly established. Since 1830 the Canton area, through the efforts of the Canton Company, has served as a nerve center of import and export traffic, and as a large manufacturing center for the entire Baltimore area. The Canton House was conceived by Walter B. Brooks, then president of the Canton Company, with the idea of giving the company a permanent homelike atmosphere. He suggested that the design of the home building should reflect the beginnings of the company that had been identified with the growth of Baltimore for almost a century. Consequently, it was decided that the building should follow the "Colonial" style popular in this state when the Canton Company was in its formative period.

 

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