Baltimore General Dispensary
500, Fayette St., W. & 100 Paca St., N., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Baltimore General Dispensary Building is three bays wide and two stories high, with running bond red brick foundation and building walls, and a water table. The foundation well is punctuated by three boarded-over windows to either side of the entrance. These windows have brick lintels. The entrance is in the center bay and surmounts three concrete steps and a concrete stoop. The door is flanked by stone pilasters, and surmounted by a modestly carved stone pediment supported by heavy curved brackets. The pediment, featuring egg-and-dart molding, intersects a tripartite flat transom. The three bays of the building are defined by four brick pilasters. The outer bays on the first floor have tripartite windows composed of three double-hung 1/1 windows separated by wooden mullions. The windows sills are a simple design of stone and brick. All three second story windows are identical to these first story windows, and are divided by a series of red-painted wooden panels. A simple cornice surmounts a stone entablature reading: 1801 Baltimore General Dispensary 1911. A shallow brick parapet wall surmounts this cornice.
The Baltimore General Dispensary Building is the only surviving building designed for Baltimore’s oldest charity. Its design reflects its use by a prominent social institution and is, as well, an interesting mixture of neoclassical and commercial styles. The Baltimore General Dispensary was formed in 1801 to provide medical and health care services for Baltimore’s poor. It is the oldest institution of this kind in Maryland. By 1892 fifteen dispensaries existed in Baltimore, many of which were affiliated with hospitals. The second dispensary was not established until 1826, 25 years after the Baltimore General Dispensary was founded. The Dispensary remains in existence today in the form of a foundation which grants money largely to hospitals for medicine in their outpatient departments. Considered a model of its kind for its era, this building featured a large dispensary center on the first floor, separated for black and white patients. The rooms for surgical and medical aid on the second floor gave the poor a measure of privacy rarely available to charity patients. The fine neoclassical details on the exterior distinguish this rather small building as a place of importance in the city. It is modest in scale, reflecting its service to Baltimore’s poor, yet its neoclassical styling relates to the Dispensary’s long-standing position as a well-known institution.