322, 324-328, Charles St., N., Baltimore, Baltimore City
Brown’s Arcade consists of four early 19th century brick rowhouses located on Charles Street, just north of Baltimore’s central business district, and just south of the Mount Vernon Historic Landmark District. Architect Henry Brauns redesigned the row of buildings in 1904 into the original Brown’s Arcade, which stretched from Charles Street west to Saratoga Street. All four buildings were originally three-bay, three-story, Federal-style brick rowhouses with gables and dormers. Their integrity had been preserved because the alterations of the façades have gained their own significance. The 1904 transition of 322-328 North Charles Street resulted in the application of Colonial Revival details over the original Federal-style façade. Details include pressed metal frontispiece doors, and decorative pressed metal bay windows surrounded with wood rustication. The interior, which was converted to a series of small shops; bordering a straight central walkway with offices above, has been restored to its original 1904 plan on the first floor. The original details have also been restored. The upper floors have been rehabilitated for continued office use, and the significant details have been restored. These include wood floors as well as decorative wood moldings and pressed metal ceilings. The floor plans have been redesigned. The back buildings are two-story brick structures with shed roofs which were converted in 1904 to small shops organized around a rear courtyard. In addition, a two-story Renaissance Revival style structure with a pressed metal façade was built at the west side of the courtyard facing the rear of the main buildings. All of these structures have been rehabilitated, which has preserved their original appearance and function, as well as their integrity.
The significance of Brown’s Arcade lies both in its architecture and in its commercial history. The original arcade building at 322-328 North Charles Street, an adaptive reuse project designed by Henry Brauns in 1904 for Frank Brown, represents the only remaining building type of its kind left in the city and the last known one in the state. In its scale and function, it represented an extremely unusual departure from the prevailing types of retail development in the city: only two other arcades were ever established. It is further distinguished architecturally by possessing the best examples of pressed metal work on both the exterior and interior of any building in its North Charles Street context, perhaps in its city context as well. The use of the material to create façades in the Colonial and Renaissance Revival styles is exceptional among Baltimore buildings.