2102, Baltimore St., E., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Bankard-Gunther Mansion at 2102 East Baltimore Street is a 3 story, 3 bay wide, 9 bay deep, flat roofed building of stretcher bond brick construction. The front façade rises up from a smooth stone base which has two windows that open into the basement. The elegantly curved marble stoop at one time had five steps; at present they are severely deteriorated. The stoop extends into the entrance portico which has recessed pilasters and a massive, flat hood above oversized consoles. A large cartouche between ornate scrolls decorates the center of the hood. The round, compound arch beneath the hood is embellished by a rounded keystone. The double doors have four molded panels and a fanlight. Typical of Italianate design are the two, tall thin first floor windows. They are of 1/1 construction, feature thick stone sills, are recessed into the wall, and are embellished by a scaled down version of the hood covering the entrance portico. The windows of each progressive story of the face become simpler in design. Those of the second floor are also 1/1 with stone sills, but are shorter with narrower lintels. Their hoods are the same as those on the first floor, but the decorative motif has been excluded. The windows on the third floor are shorter still, and their cornices lie more closely to the wall than those below. The stately façade is finalized by the pronounced bracketing of the cornice. The frieze includes tiny dentils that are almost hidden in the shadow of the wide soffit. The protrusion of the cornice beyond the flat roof gives the appearance of wide-eaved roofing when viewed from the front. The building’s west side is marked by four distinct sections of the surface: the first three bays which stand slightly taller than the others form a flat brick surface with one projecting second story bay window; the next two bays form a recessed curve; the next two bays are flat and feature a first floor bay window that protrudes some distance beyond the rest of the building line; and the remaining four bays are flat and considerably recessed. The back and east side of the building are both flat and the front half of the east side adjoins the adjacent structure. The richly embellished Italianate style building stands taller than any neighboring structure, and is much grander in conception.
The size and design of the Bankard-Gunther Mansion attest to the success of Jacob J. Bankard, one of many enterprising and prominent butchers who flocked to "Butcher’s Hill" beginning in the early 19th century. His elegant house served as a model for other homes of the affluent in the area. Architecturally, it is of Italianate/Renaissance Revival design and features stone ornamentation probably provided by Hugh Sisson, the producer of the columns of the United States Capitol of Washington, D.C. In 1891, the mansion became the home of George Gunther, the son of the mayor of Wertheim, Germany who established a famous brewing dynasty in Baltimore, and it continued to be one of the most fashionable residences in Baltimore in the late 19th century. In 1919 the building became an important Baltimore charitable center to be used by the Hebrew Home for Incurables and the Emmanuel Center to provide humanitarian service to the community.