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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Dennis Zembala, 01/1981
Erlanger Buildings
Inventory No.: B-1075
Other Name(s): Inner Harbor Lofts II
Date Listed: 3/10/1980
Location: 519-531 W. Pratt Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: c. 1892, 1899, c. 1905
Architect/Builder: Architect: John E. Lafferty and others
Description: The Erlanger Buildings consist of a four-structure, turn-of-the-20th-century loft complex. The buildings are located in the City’s old warehouse district adjacent to the University of Maryland professional schools. Highly visible from Russell Street or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the buildings take up a good portion of one city block. The easternmost building, 519-525 West Pratt Street is 9 bays wide and 6 stories high. The brick building has iron storefronts and stone detailing. Four brick piers ending in pyramidal pinnacles and ball finials divide the façade into three sections. Each of these sections contains an iron storefront. The central bay is divided into three parts by stylized columns capped by brackets, above which is a cornice with circular floral motifs. In each section is a large transom above double doors of glass and wood. On the second floor of the center bay is a panel of fine basket weave curved brick below a tripartite fully arched window. A terra cotta archway with decorative spandrel, billet molding, and keystone embellished with a bearded head contains the fully arched window. The east storefront has a single door and two windows, while the west one has three windows. Corbeled cornices, pilasters, and keystoned arches are among the decorative features on the building. Adjoining this building, at 527 West Pratt Street, is a 3-bay, 7-story addition. A stone cornice with egg-and-dart molding divides the first and second floors. Cornices, lintels, and brick piers decorate the building. The third building in the complex, at 529 West Pratt Street, is a small 2-story, 3-bay brick structure with two entrances and a store window on the first floor. The structure ends with a cornice and crenellated parapet. A five-story tower rises behind and above the west bay of this structure. The uppermost bay of the tower is open. The westernmost building of the complex is 4 bays wide and 4 stories high. The windows are tripartite with 1/1 sash and a 3-light transom. There are no entrances on the front façade. Corbeled brickwork is featured on the first and fourth floor of each bay. The building ends in a stepped roof line. It is connected to the 7-story structure by metal bridges set back from the front façade. Significance: The Erlanger Buildings are significant as examples of the loft industrial architecture in Baltimore from 1890-1910. Within the four-building complex are a variety of architectural styles from Victorian-era loft buildings with fine details and cast-iron columns to later structures, characterized primarily by large windows, representing the Commercial Style. Historically, the buildings are significant as the home of the Erlanger Manufacturing Company, which produced BVD brand underwear. Charles Erlanger, co-founder of the company, is credited with making major advances in the design of underwear which revolutionized the industry. The name BVD has become a worldwide synonym for underwear.

 

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