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: stories@lordbaltimorehotel.com

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