William J. Pencek
Baltimore Equitable Society
21, Eutaw St., N. & Fayette St., Baltimore, Baltimore City
This two-story building with brownstone front and brick sides was constructed in 1857 in the Italian Renaissance style, and was originally the headquarters of the Eutaw Savings Bank. The central entrance on the three-bay Eutaw Street side is most handsome: five marble steps lead to a pair of heavy wooden doors that are paneled and studded, and topped with a stained-glass fanlight. These doors are flanked by simple square pilasters that end in elaborate capitals in a scrolled acanthus leaf design. Above the fanlight is an intricately carved panel and over all a plain classical pediment. This decorative work is done in the same Connecticut brownstone with which the Eutaw Street façade is covered. The first-story windows have 6/6 sash with the upper sash arched and glazed; those on the main façade feature a decorative treatment similar to that of the entrance. These decorative elements are seen again in the heavy brownstone lintels and brackets over the five first-level windows on the Fayette Street side. The second-story windows are 6/6 with a flattened arch. Those on the main façade are rimmed with a simple brownstone molding, which is repeated in an abbreviated form on those on the Fayette Street side. The windows on the south side (alley) are identical to their north and west counterparts, but are without embellishment. All windows have brownstone sills. Above the second-story windows is a complete entablature, with a simple architrave and frieze, and a wooden cornice featuring dentils below and carved modillions above. The gable end facing Eutaw Street is pedimented and the roof is covered with tin.
The building occupied by the Baltimore Equitable Society is representative of an architectural genre that has all but disappeared from the streets of Baltimore. The Fire of 1904, urban renewal, and modernization have taken most of the city’s mid-19th century commercial structures, and have left others altered beyond recognition. This handsome Italian Renaissance building on the corner of Eutaw and Fayette Streets not only survives, but has been maintained with great care, and is still in use. Today it houses the oldest corporation in the city, and a fine collection of vintage fire equipment and paraphernalia.