Collection of Jenkins Cromwell, Baltimore, MD
Gandy Belting Company Building
726-734, Pratt St., W., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Gandy Belting Company building is a brick masonry bearing-wall loft structure, located at the northeast corner of Pratt and Fremont Streets, seven blocks west of the center of the city. It was built in five sections. The sections built in 1888, 1890, and 1908 are four stories in height. The remaining two sections, built in 1908-1911 and 1911 respectively, are five stories in height. The first section to be built fronts on Pratt Street near the southeast corner of the lot. The succeeding sections were added in a clockwise ring, which encloses a small court, about 22 feet wide by 68 feet long. The south, west, and north façades generally conform to their respective street lines. Fremont Street, on the west, is at an angle to the orthogonal city grid, making the building trapezoidal in plan. The east façade sets back approximately 33 feet from the property line to make room for a loading dock. The south and west façades of the building, fronting on Pratt and Fremont (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard) Streets, respectively, are ornate. These façades are of a high-fired molded brick which is corbeled below the parapets to form a continuous cornice. This brick cornice is bracketed on the 1888 and 1890 sections and dentiled on the 1908 section. The Pratt Street façades of the 1888 and 1890 sections are nearly identical, each having three groups of three window bays. A low pedimented parapet over the central group in each section is inscribed, on an inset stone plaque, with the year of construction. This lends a Victorian flavor to the structure. At ground level, each of the two sections has a round-arched central vehicular opening, flanked by a pair of segmental-arched openings. Window sills and heads on these façades are of rusticated stone.
The Gandy Belting Company, (1888-1931) which was the builder and original owner (1888-1931) of the subject building, was a transitional development in the history of Baltimore’s important textile industry. It adapted the textile technologies of the early and mid-19th century, when sailcloth was the major use for cotton duck, to the manufacture of machinery belting for the transmission of power at the turn of the 20th century. Its patented belts were once widely known and used around the world. The subject building was an integral part of a clearly defined district of manufacturing and warehouse buildings, most of which are now demolished, extending along the B&O Railroad tracks on West Pratt Street. It is a prime example of the early elevator factories which once ringed downtown, but are now rare.