Photo credit: Glorian Dorsey , 08/1984

Property Name: Sonneborn Building
Date Listed: 10/29/1982
Inventory No.: B-2330
Location: 110, Paca St., S., Baltimore, Baltimore City

Description: The Sonneborn Building is a nine-story loft building constructed in 1905 on the northwest corner of South Paca and West Pratt Streets in Baltimore, Maryland. The building is of "fireproof" reinforced-concrete construction, faced in buff-colored brick, with a coursed ashlar foundation and stone trim; its detailing reflects the Neoclassical Revival of the early 20th century. The principal (east) fa├žade, on South Paca Street, is 11 bays wide. The central bay, defined by stone pilasters, holds the entrance, which is ornamented with a split pediment surmounted by an oval window. The entrance is further emphasized by a pair of stone pilasters in each of the bays which flank it. Each of the three bays on either side of the central bays holds a group of three tall, transomed 4/4 sash windows on the first floor, with similar windows in a segmental-arched opening on the second. Below the second-story cornice, the brickwork separating the recessed window panels takes the form of rusticated pilasters; from the third to ninth floor levels, these pilasters are plain. The corner bays are expressed as heavily rusticated pilasters up to the level of the dentiled building cornice; these bays hold a single 4/4 window on each floor above the second, and a large bronze name plaque with an elaborate Neoclassical enframement below. A simple cornice separates the eighth and ninth floors, and the ninth-floor windows rest directly on it. The building is ten bays deep. The interior is utilitarian, with an open plan interrupted only by concrete-encased steel columns between the reinforced concrete floors.

Significance: The Sonneborn Building is reported to have been one of the earliest steel-and-concrete buildings in the city, and the most modern structure of its kind in Baltimore when it was built. The building was designed by the firm of Otto Simonson and Theodore Wells Pietsch, two very well known Baltimore architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was designed in 1904, right after the Great Baltimore Fire, to be the latest in fireproof construction, including its own sprinkler system throughout. It was built in 1905 for Henry Sonneborn and Company as a vertical clothing manufactory. At the time it was built it was the tallest and largest strictly manufacturing building in the city of Baltimore. Today it remains the tallest and largest of the remaining loft buildings in what has come to be known as the "Loft Urban Renewal Area."




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