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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Caroline Hardy, 06/1985
Alex Brown Building
Inventory No.: B-117
Date Listed: 12/2/1982
Location: 135 E. Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1901; 1905
Architect/Builder: Architect: Parker & Thomas
Description: This two-story Flemish bond brick and marble bank building is three bays wide on the Baltimore Street (front) façade and six bays wide on the Calvert Street (side) elevation. The central entrance is set into a foliated marble surround which is capped by a pediment with scroll end brackets. The bronze sliding doors of the entrance are opened during business hours revealing a modern glass door entrance. Four fluted pilasters with Ionic capitals flank the entrance and define the corners of the façade. Marble quoining surrounds the pilasters. The two first floor windows are protected by an iron grill. The upper floor end windows are 9/9 sash, while the central window is a three part composition. All of the windows feature marble lentils with pronounced ends and keystones. Decorative iron balconies with an "A" over "B" logo are located at the second floor windows. The modillion block cornice of the building is surmounted by a marble balustrade. The side elevation is similar to the front. The last two bays were added after the Baltimore Fire of 1904. The interior of the building features an excellent marble banking space with a huge stained glass central dome. Significance: The Alex. Brown & Sons building is an excellent example of the late 19th to early 20th century renaissance in American civic architecture known as the Beaux Arts style. The large stained-glass dome centered above the main banking floor of this building is an excellent example of Art Nouveau stained glass, and as such is further indicative of the significance of this building as a true "period piece." For over 81 years, the Alex. Brown Building has been the home office of Alex. Brown & Sons, which is now "the oldest name in investment banking," having been established in 1800 in Baltimore. For more than 182 years, this firm has played a major role in the history of American business, commerce, and economy. Having been designed and built especially for Alex. Brown & Sons, this building is, in effect, a living monument to that firm and its involvement in American history. Built to be fireproof, the Alex. Brown Building so proved itself in 1904 when it emerged from the devastation of the Baltimore Fire with only minor cosmetic damage, making it a very rare survivor of that tragic event. This building is further significant in Baltimore as having been the first design of a local and later-prominent firm, Parker & Thomas.

 

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