On Saturday, October 22nd, the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, in partnership with AIA Baltimore, presented the third annual Doors Open Baltimore. interested patrons could learn about Charm City’s fascinating history through its architecture and the people who designed and preserved it by visiting over fifty buildings around the city, through a self guided tour.
The event is one day long and goes from 10am to 4pm (although I believe this needs to be full weekend event as 6 hours is no where near enough time to see it all…but I digress).
I planned my route to visit 11 venues; I only accomplished seeing 9 of those but it was still a great experience (and I made over 15,000 steps according to my fitbit).
“The Maryland Historical Society, the state’s oldest cultural institution, hired Baltimore firm Ziger Snead to design a new gallery building and main entrance for their campus. This ultra-modern 40,000 square-foot addition, composed of zinc and glass panels, houses a gallery, library, theater, and gift shop.” It served as the Information Hub and starting point for the day’s event.
Eubie Blake National Jazz and Cultural Center
“The Classic Revival structure that houses the Eubie Blake National Jazz and Cultural Center was originally constructed for the Baltimore School of Dental Surgery. Maryland Governor William Donald Schaefer attended classes here when it served as the University of Baltimore School of Law. The building later served as home to the Maryland General Hospital School of Nursing. Born in Baltimore in 1883, Eubie Blake became a jazz legend, composing more than 350 songs and co-writing Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African Americans. The Eubie Blake National Jazz and Cultural Center moved into the building in 2000, and now features performances, exhibits, film series, dance workshops, speakers, youth programs and rental space.”
“The building that currently houses Le Mondo was built in the early 1900’s to house the Strand Movie Theater featuring films and live performances for the many Baltimoreans who came to Howard Street in the early 1900’s to shop. After the theater closed, the building was home to Uniform City for fifty years. Le Mondo is an artist-owned-and-driven project aimed at positioning Baltimore as a center for theatre and the live arts. In 2016, they plan to open the first completed part of their center which features a bar, performance venues and studio spaces. They plan to renovate the two adjacent buildings to include live/work spaces and a second theater.”
“The 31 story office tower known as Commerce Place was completed in 1992 and is the fourth tallest building in Baltimore. Geraldine Pontius designed the building while working for RTKL Associates. The high-rise is an example of Postmodern architecture and is used for commercial offices, retail space and parking. Aptly named, Commerce Place has been the home of Alex. Brown, Deutsche Bank and Stifel Nicolaus & Co. which has leased 20% of the building.” Lucky for me, Ms. Pontius (lady with the glasses) was in attendance when I visited.
“The War Memorial honors and serves all veterans of Maryland. The Greek Revival memorial with its six columns and broad steps serves as a place of remembrance for fallen soldiers and as an administrative office for veterans outreach organizations. The high-ceiling interior is softened and embellished with dark-red marble in the vestibule, Belgian block and marble in the main room and Italian Travertine marble floors throughout the building. The building includes an assembly room used for the meetings of various civic and veterans groups and a 1000-seat auditorium on the second floor. The names of all 1,752 Marylanders who died during World War I are inscribed on the walls.”
These were the first 5 visits of my tour. Stay tuned for part two on Wednesday for more of the architecture and historic venues that make up the Charm City.