Ghost Stories

One of the most interesting of the many interesting aspects of the Lord Baltimore Hotel is the claim that it is haunted. For obvious reasons, this information is difficult to confirm, but more than one person seems to have experienced an inexplicable event in the hotel. This uncredited account is from the hotel archives:

“Fran Carter has worked at the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel for eight years…In 1998 Fran was on the nineteenth floor of the building, preparing a small meeting room for future use. She was working at a table facing the wall with an open door to her left. She bent over the table for a few moments, absorbed in her work. Then she looked up and to her left at the doorway. A little girl wearing a long, cream-colored dress and black, shiny shoes ran by the open doorway, bouncing a red ball before her. Fran immediately ran outside, calling after her, “Little girl, are you lost?” The hallway was completely empty.

Fran, quite shaken at this point, turned around to go back to the meeting room when she saw two people walking down the hallway toward her. The first was an older gentleman dressed in formal attire. He was accompanied by a woman in a long ball gown. Fran asked them if they were looking for their granddaughter because she had just run by. She turned to point in the direction the child had passed. When she turned her head back toward the two people, they had just vanished right before her eyes.

Fran was then so frightened that she called a security guard. He stayed there with her until she finished her work, and no more ghostly visitors appeared on the nineteenth floor that evening. A few years later a guest at the hotel told Fran that she believed that her room had a ghostly visitor. She was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of a child crying. As she sat upin her bed, she saw a little girl crying and rocking herself back and forth while sitting in the window of her room. As the woman rose to go to the girl, she slowly faded away. The little girl was wearing a long, cream-colored dress with black shoes.

One evening, a few years later, Fran was approached by a coworker who told her that three people were standing in the dark in the ballroom of the hotel. The hotel’s ballroom is a very large room, which can accommodate 1,250 people seated at banquet tables. Three arched ceiling length windows dominate the far wall of the room, the side of the room opposite the entrance doorway. When Fran entered the ballroom, she walked across the room in the direction of the windows. She noticed that there were indeed three people standing there in the darkened, moonlit room. One man stood before the far left window, another stood before the far right window, and a woman stood a few feet behind the men before the middle window. They were all looking upward through the windows. Fran noticed that he was wearing a dark, possibly blue, sport blazer with metallic buttons that gleamed in the darkness. He had an ascot tied around his throat and appeared quite the dapper gentleman, She thought that his clothing was odd, but at this point didn’t know that her visitors were out of the ordinary. She then asked them if they would like some light and walked by the man in the ascot to turn on the light switch, just a few feet from where we was standing. Light immediately flooded the room-and the three visitors were gone!”

LBH Ghost story

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Rebuilding Baltimore: After the Fire

Once the flames were finally extinguished on February 8, 1904, the long task of rebuilding the city’s core began. As described by the Fire Museum of Maryland:

“Baltimore and many of its downtown businesses faced serious challenges after the Fire. Insurance covered only the replacement value of most of the destroyed buildings, which actually were followed by larger, more costly structures. Some 1400 structures valued at about $13 million prior to the Fire were replaced by approximately 800 buildings worth some $25 million. Consequently, overall industrial progress suffered as building owners diverted investment capital to reconstruction.

A similar diversion of investment capital affected previously planned public works projects. Money earned by the City’s sale of Western Maryland Railroad stock went to reconstruct city-owned portions of the burnt district, rather than to essential public works improvements. Rebuilding streets and docks, as well as preparing ten additional acres of street space, cost more than $7 million, with only $1.1 million of it covered by assessments to property owners.

Repairs to damaged trolley lines enabled service to be restored quickly in most of the City. The network of underground gas lines was re-established. Streets were widened and electric cables covered.

Although rebuilding the burnt district modernized part of the City, many additional improvements still needed to be made.”

The Enoch Pratt Free Library even has a collection of items called “Aftermath of the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904”, summarized here:

“Baltimore City officials and the State of Maryland were quick to respond in the aftermath of the fire. The Citizens’ Relief Committee (CRC) and BDC were each established by an act of the Maryland General Assembly and put at the disposal of Mayor Robert M. McLane. The CRC was given a fund of $250,000 to disburse for the immediate relief of those individual citizens who had lost property in the fire. Financial aid came in from around the country as well. It is testament to the resilience of Baltimoreans that only a mere $23,000 was spent. The BDC set to work creating and implementing plans to clear away debris and rubble and to clear and widen streets and rebuild and open public spaces. It took three years to do it, but they played a significant role in helping Baltimore get back on its feet to thrive and flourish as a bustling metropolis once more.”

In terms of the history of the Lord Baltimore Hotel, its predecessor the Caswell Hotel seems to have been built and opened sometime after the fire in 1904, surviving until it was torn down to make way for the the building of the Lord Baltimore Hotel in 1928.

Know someone who stayed at the Lord Baltimore Hotel sometime in the past eight decades? Ask them to send their memories to:

The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904

One of the other murals painted by the Georgis for the Lord Baltimore Hotel was of the aftermath of the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. The fire was a significant event for the hotel because it spurred rebuilding and revitalization in the area it destroyed.:

“In 1904, however, the city’s progress suffered a rude setback when a fire consumed most of its business district, including a number of historic structures. The devastated area was rapidly rebuilt, perhaps even stimulating economic life, and Baltimore prospered through the First World War and into the 1920’s.”

Maryland History summary – includes source info

Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage describes the fire and illustrates it:

“On Sunday February 7th, 1904 most of Baltimore was looking forward to a quiet Sunday afternoon.

The firefighters at Engine Co. 15 were preparing for morning inspection at 11 am. However, at 10:48 am they received an automatic alarm at the John E. Hurst & Company, located between Hopkins Place and Liberty Street on the south side of German Street (now Redwood).

The fire quickly spread and in minutes the surrounding buildings were ablaze. Chief George Horton, who responded just after 11:10 am, realized the severity of the fire and summoned almost the entire Baltimore City Fire Department, including 24 engines and 8 hook & ladders to the scene. At 11:55 am, the Chief requested help from Washington, DC.”

Not only would the Baltimore Fire Department need help from DC, the fire could be seen from there:

“By 10 PM Sunday, the Maryland Trust Company (left), B&O Railroad (center background) and Continental Trust Company (right background), Baltimore’s tallest building, were ablaze and the glare could be seen from as far away as Washington, D.C.”

Several downtown buildings survived the fire:

“Although the Union Trust burned, its steel framework held. Known as the Jefferson Building today, it is one of only 10 buildings to survive the fire.”

An old bank was among the survivors:

“Alex. Brown & Sons, located at 135 E. Baltimore Street, was built in 1901, although the firm itself was founded in 1800 and was the first and oldest continually operating investment banking firm in the United States. One of the few buildings to survive the Baltimore Fire, it was the only one to retain its elaborate architectural façade, marble and bronze interior, and stained glass dome.”

In the end, over 1500 buildings were burned:

“It is believed to be the third worst conflagration to affect an American city in history, surpassed only by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906.”

The Murals

The Lord Baltimore Hotel is home to a number of unique murals depicting the history of Baltimore. The murals were painted in 1944 by Mabel and John Georgi:

“Mabel and John Georgi comprise one of the most interesting and talented of the younger married couples around town.

Mabel Scott Georgi is the daughter of Mrs. Columbus O’Donnell Lee and the late Robert P. Scott. She is gifted as an amateur actress.

She also paints and her husband is an artist of ability. They live in a studio on Mount Vernon Place, in back of the Mount Vernon Club. Long ago when the club was a private residence, the studio was a carriage house and the courtyard was where they drove the carriage around to the house.

The Georgis are doing a series of murals for the Lord Baltimore Hotel.” (“Historic Murals Done By the Georgi Twain” Baltimore American, August 6 1944)

One of the murals shows the view of the city to the south from Mount Vernon in 1850 (provided photo):Image

From the Baltimore American article:

“Still another one is a view of the city looking south from Washington’s Monument.

In the foreground is Mt. Vernon Place, looking much as it does today, except for the Peabody Institute and the Walters Art Gallery, etc, which had not then been built. This is 1850.”

Another shows the view of the city to the north from Federal Hill in 1752 (provided photo):


From the Baltimore American again:

“There are six smaller parlors that connect with the ballroom and in these rooms will be panels that show the growth of the city.

In the first room is a map of Baltimore depicting the town as originally planned. The original town was laid out in 1729. There are scenes of surveyors laying it out.

There is also a panel of Kaminskey’s tavern, which was one of the first in Baltimore and which is standing today.

The large panel in this room shows a view of Baltimore in 1752 as seen from Federal Hill.”

The murals were discussed in Baltimore magazine in September 1944, once they were finished:

“Baltimore now has a new point of cultural interest that ranks with its art museums among things to see and admire. The murals, two of which are reproduced above, adorn the walls of the recently redecorated Calvert Ballroom and adjacent rooms at the Lord Baltimore Hotel.

Altogether, the exhibit is well worth seeing and provides civic-conscious Baltimoreans and their guests with as delightful a locale for their social and business gatherings as could be desired. It is the intention of Howard Busick, Acting Managing Director of the Hotel, to have the exhibit open to visitors at all times except when the rooms are in use.”

Have a story from your visit to the murals? Email stories@lordbaltimorehotel and tell us about it!

The Mind and Materials Behind the Building

The architect of the Lord Baltimore Hotel was William L. Stoddart:

“In the late 1920’s, W.L. Stoddart, a New york architect, was hired to design a new hotel – the largest ever built in the State of Maryland – on the site of the Caswell Hotel and two adjoining commercial buildings.

William Lee Stoddart was born in Tenafly, New Jersey in 1869 and studied architecture at Columbia University. After 1908, he worked under his own name specializing in hotel architecture. Among the many hotels he designed are the Francis Marion in Charleston, South Carolina…the Penn-Harris Hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; the Yorktown Hotel in York, Pennsylvania; and the Tutweiler in Birmingham, Alabama (associate architect with William Welton), demolished in 1970. Stoddart also designed the Federal Building in East Akron, Ohio, and many banks. He died in 1940.

The Lord Baltimore Hotel can be considered his finest achievement. The building was designed in a style which was popular for large urban hotels of the early twentieth century. The buildings are characterized by a base featuring stone ornamentation taking up the entire site of the building and housing lobby, street level stores, and major public meeting and banquet spaces. Rising above the base are two or more brick shafts in a “U” or “E” shape which house the sleeping rooms for guests. The shape of this brick shaft provided light and ventilation for the guest rooms. Large hotels of this type, such as the Palmer House in Chicago and the Vanderbilt Hotel in New York, were designed in an “E” shape because of their size. The Conrad Hilton Hotel of Chicago is an extreme example of this type of building where numerous brick shafts are needed considering the enormous amount of guest rooms. The brick shafts of these hotels are sparsely ornamented, however all feature stone decoration at the roof line to cap the building. While the exteriors of these hotels feature restrained classical ornamentation, the major interior public spaces were lavishly decorated.” (from 1982 National Register application)

Many local suppliers were used for the building materials:

“Stone made in Baltimore by the Benedict Stone Co. and set by the Consolidated Engineering Co.

Brick from the Excelsior Brick Co.

Sand from the Arundel Sand & Gravel Company.

Cement from the Union Bridge plant of the Lehigh Portland Cement Co.

Glass from the Baltimore branch of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co.

Plastering by J.H. Hampshire, Inc.

Painting and Decorating by the H. Chambers Co.

Plumbing, heating, ventilating and vacuum cleaning systems by Lloyd E. Mitchell, Inc.

Cold storage boxes by Ottenheimer Bros. and the Livezey Co.

Refrigerating plant and ice tanks by Chatard & Norris.

Sheet metal and roofing by W.A. Fingles Company.

Electric wiring by Blumenthal-Kahn Electric Co.

Interior tiling by the Maryland Lime & Cement Co.

Brick work, reinforced concrete floors, foundations, interior partitions, excavating, wrecking and carpentry by the Consolidated Engineering Co, with Baltimore labor throughout.”

1928 LBH to open Dec 1 p2 local products

More About the Building: Inside

The Lord Baltimore Hotel is as distinctive inside as it is outside. As described in the 1982 application to the National Register of Historic places:

“The major interior spaces, the lobby, main dining room and Cavalier Room, and banquet hall or grand ballroom, feature Italian Renaissance styling. The 5,377 square foot lobby was originally finished in marble. It has large squared piers with Corinthian captials, brass chandalier and is surrounded by a mezzanine. The main dining room off a marble stairway from the lobby features a high ceiling, mirrored transoms and large windows. The banquet hall on the second floor can seat 1,250 people. It features large arched windows and crystal chandaliers. The hotel originally housed 700 rooms, but this has been reduced to the present 600 rooms.”

The document describes the rooms in greater detail further along:

“The hotel is entered from either the Hanover Street side or the Baltimore Street side. Revolving doors of the Hanover Street entrance lead directly into the lobby, while a short flight of stairs must be climbed up to the lobby from the Baltimore Street entrance. The lobby is a spacious carpeted room with a surrounding mezzanine and high coffered ceilings richly decorated in octogonal designs. From the Hanover Street entrance, the check-in desk is straight ahead, the elevators are to the left and the main dining room is a short flight of stairs up to the right. The floors are now carpeted, but were originally Terazzo marble of colored marble squares laid off by brass strips… The eight squared off marble piers supporting the mezzanien are now covered with wall paper up to gold Corinthia capitals. The lobby walls were also originally marble of rose Traventine with a base of Italian Levanto marble. The mezzanine facing features a delicate arcaded design surmounted by a bronze railing. In the center of the lobby is a large brass chandalier. Marble stairs with bronze railings lead up to the mezzanine on the left, near the elevators and just to the right of the check-in desk…

The main dining room (now called the Cavalier Room) is off a marble stairway a half level above the south side of the lobby. The dining room is a long, narrow room featuring brass chandaliers, a highly decorated beam ceiling, pilasters with gold painted decorations at the capitals and cornice, and large windows along Baltimore Street…

The entire second floor is devoted to the grand ballroom or banquet hall which is flanked by a series of meeting rooms. The ballroom bisects the hotel in a north-south direction. The immense ballroom includes a balcony, large arched windows, crystal chandaliers, and a ceiling which is slightly vaulted at the balconies. The balcony facing and walls are now finished in wood paneling. The small meeting rooms next to the balconies feature attractive murals of historical Baltimore scenes painted in 1944.”

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About the Building

The Lord Baltimore Hotel is an 85-year-old, 23-story building, as well as an unusual work of architecture for Baltimore:

“An octagonal tower is located on the roof. It features brick walls, stone trim, and a copper covered mansard with carved stone Chatausque [sic] dormer windows. Lion with shield pinnacles project above the stone cornice of the tower. Copper finials and cresting complete the mansard roof which also includes a brick smoke stack that projects through the roof at the rear.

The Lord Baltimore Hotel embodies the distinctive architectural characteristics of early twentieth century high rise hotels, reminiscent of such famous American hotels as New York’s Vanderbilt Hotel and Chicago’s Palmer House. Built in a transitional architectural period in favor of Art Deco and early modernism, the Lord Baltimore Hotel was the last high rise building constructed with classical ornamentation in downtown Baltimore. It is also architecturally significant as the largest hotel building ever constructed in Maryland; one of the four high rise structures in downtown Baltimore with a distinctive roof line; and the design of a noteworthy New York architect who specialized in hotel buildings. The building of the Lord Baltimore Hotel marked a commercial milestone in Baltimore’s history. It was the last of the great downtown hotels constructed before the decline of Baltimore after World War II and until the area’s rebirth with Charles Center, the Inner Harbor, and the construction of new hotels such as the Hilton and Hyatt. The Lord Baltimore alone has survived as a hotel throughout this entire period.”

The tower of the Lord Baltimore Hotel adds a special characteristic to this type of hotel and provides the building with greater classical definition. This type of roof tower is rare in Baltimore, making the Lord Baltimore Hotel one of only four highrise buildings in the downtown area with a distinctive roofline. The Maryland National Bank Building and the Tower Building have similar roofs; the Bromo Seltzer Tower is the other highrise building in the downtown area with a distinctive roof design.

The Lord Baltimore Hotel in downtown Baltimore represents the last highrise building constructed with classical details. Later highrise buildings: the Commercial Credit Building, Maryland National Bank, C&P Telephone Building and Hutzler’s Tower are characterized primarily by Art Deco styling rather than classical design. Later highrise buildings are of modern architecture.”

(from 1982 application to National Register of Historic Places)

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