Ten Light Street shines bright in new iden­tity

Ven­er­a­ble bank/of­fice build­ing ren­o­vated for apart­ments

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - Jacques Kelly jkelly@balt­sun.com

Any­one fas­ci­nated by lo­cal ar­chi­tec­ture and his­tory should set aside time next Satur­day for the free Open Doors Bal­ti­more event, when the city’s re­mark­able land­marks wel­come vis­i­tors.

Lit­er­ally tow­er­ing above the list is Ten Light Street, the 1929 art deco of­fice build­ing known, at times, as Bal­ti­more Trust, the Mathieson Build­ing, Mary­land Na­tional Bank or the Bank of Amer­ica.

It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with on-the-hour tours of its up­per floors. This Bal­ti­more trea­sure is an eye-popper. Opened in late 1929 as a bank topped by floors of of­fices, it was for many decades the tallest build­ing in Bal­ti­more.

Ten Light emerged a few months ago re­made as apart­ments and a fit­ness stu­dio. I rec­om­mend vis­i­tors ex­plore its heights. Only from the up­per floors, which will be open next Satur­day, are the rugged ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments so vis­i­ble — they re­sem­ble rough-hewn ea­gles.

On the 22nd floor, you go face-to-face with the gar­goyle-like sculp­tures.

You also get a chance to ob­serve down­town Bal­ti­more from a rare per­spec­tive, with views of the har­bor and the col­lec­tion of struc­tures that rose in the years af­ter the 1904 Great Fire.

If you en­ter from Light Street, there’s a smash­ing 1929 art deco lobby fes­tooned with a turquoise and gold leaf ceil­ing. Af­ter be­ing whisked up by orig­i­nal el­e­va­tors — hand­some wood-pan­eled cabs — you can ap­pre­ci­ate the pre-1929 stock mar­ket crash board room and ex­ec­u­tive of­fices. The Bat­tle Mon­u­ment and the Mary­land flag ap­pear in the stained glass win­dows here.

The 22nd floor, where the build­ing steps back, has pent­house-style ter­races once only ac­ces­si­ble to the lawyers who had of­fices here. Now they are the com­mon area for the 455 apart­ment dwellers.

“Think of your apart­ment as your bed­room and the rest of the build­ing as your home,” said Don Earl St­ed­ham, the chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of the build­ing’s owner, Metropoli­tan Part­ner­ship Ltd.

There’s a floor’s worth of gath­er­ing places, lounges and a com­mu­nal din­ing room. I al­most missed the swim­ming pool. It’s high above Bal­ti­more Street.

The orig­i­nal of­fice halls make for some in­ter­est­ing apart­ment cor­ri­dors too. I like the high ceil­ings and enor­mous win­dows.

Vis­i­tors who en­ter the struc­ture from the Red­wood Street en­trance walk into the Un­der Ar­mour Per­for­mance Cen­ter, cre­ated out of the old bank­ing hall and ac­com­pa­ny­ing of­fices.

I did a dou­ble take at the spot for­merly oc­cu­pied by the Ed­die Ja­cobs men’s shop. It’s now the Fuel Cafe, a juice and smoothie Jean Winkowski, di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing for FX Stu­dios, stands in front of the vault at 10 Light Street, which is now a lounge in the ren­o­vated bank build­ing. bar

Jean Winkowski of FX Stu­dios, which runs the per­for­mance cen­ter, walked me through the mas­sive tem­pered steel bank vault. It’s now a post-work­out lounge. Im­proved light­ing has helped the main bank­ing hall. While I missed artist Hil­dreth Meiere’s mo­saic floors (still there but now cov­ered by a heavy padded rug), the mu­rals by Grif­fith Coale and McGill Mack­all — cel­e­brat­ing Bal­ti­more’s re­birth af­ter the 1904 fire and the de­fense of the city in the War of 1812 — have never looked bet­ter. The cleaned traver­tine walls are free of years of nico­tine stains.

The Open Doors Bal­ti­more event in­cludes dozens of other places that will be open.

These in­clud­ing the White­hall Mill in Ham­p­den, Bal­ti­more Un­der Ground Science Space on Haven Street, Clifton Man­sion, St. James Church on Lafayette Square, the In­sti­tute of Notre Dame, Lil­lie Car­roll Jack­son Mu­seum, the Peale Mu­seum on Hol­l­i­day Street, R House in Rem­ing­ton, and the for­mer Druid Hill Park su­per­in­ten­dent’s res­i­dence, now the Parks and Peo­ple Foun­da­tion.

Open Doors Bal­ti­more, Oct. 22, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A few build­ings, in­clud­ing churches, may close early to ac­com­mo­date af­ter­noon wed­dings.

The event is spon­sored by the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects and the Bal­ti­more Ar­chi­tec­ture Foun­da­tion. More in­for­ma­tion can be found on­line at door­sopen­bal­ti­more.org.


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