Preserving Hansa Haus flavor Building: First Maryland Bancorp acquires the neo-Hanseatic structure in downtown Baltimore and plans to restore it by the middle of next year.

Urban Landscape

November 19, 1998|By Edward Gunts HTC | Edward Gunts HTC,SUN STAFF

HANSA HAUS, A neo-Hanseatic building that housed th German consulate in Baltimore, is the latest Charles Street landmark to be targeted for restoration.

Representatives of First Maryland Bancorp announced this week that the bank holding company acquired the building this year and plans to restore it by mid-1999.

A half-block north of First Maryland's headquarters at 25 S. Charles St., the building will house offices of First Maryland Brokerage Co., a subsidiary retail operation that sells stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds and annuities to the public.

First Maryland, the holding company for First National Bank of Maryland and others, plans to invest more than $1 million for the acquisition and restoration of the building. Ziger/Snead Inc. of Baltimore is the architect hired to design improvements to the interior and exterior. Preliminary work has begun.

"Rather than demolish the building and begin new construction, we will preserve the Germanic style of architecture through rehabilitation as a way to support the 'second Renaissance' and redevelopment of the city," said Mark A. Mullican, president of the brokerage. "As a member of the Baltimore business community for nearly 200 years, First Maryland feels it is important to preserve the ethnic heritage of the building."

Hansa Haus was built in 1912 for North German Lloyd Steamship Co., whose vessels brought to Baltimore thousands of Germans who helped shape the city. At the time, Redwood Street was called German Street.

The Hansa Haus' design was inspired by German buildings at the 1900 Paris Exposition and elsewhere, including burghers' houses with finely detailed brick, decorative tile work and distinctive rooflines.

The original architect was Parker, Thomas & Rice, the firm that designed the Belvedere Hotel at Charles and Chase streets and the former Odorite building at Mount Royal and Maryland avenues.

Hansa Haus has had various occupants, including the German consulate, a W. Bell & Co. retail outlet, and Tres Bon Bakery Cafe. Vacant for nearly four years, it has stood as a symbol of Baltimore's role as a magnet for thousands of European immigrants.

With assets of $17.3 billion Sept. 30, First Maryland also is the holding company for Dauphin Deposit Bank and Trust Co. and The York Bank.

Its announcement of plans to restore the Hansa Haus at 11 S. Charles St. comes less than a week after the Johns Hopkins University signed a lease to move its Downtown Center to the former Hamburger's building at Charles and Fayette streets.

In addition, William C. Smith Co. plans to renovate the former Masonic Temple at 223-225 N. Charles St., and Chevy Chase Bank has restored the former Alex. Brown & Sons headquarters at Calvert and Baltimore streets.

Mullican said the brokerage occupies offices on the 12th floor of First Maryland's headquarters and had been looking for a location that would give it more of a retail presence.

Hansa Haus "gives us much more visibility than our current Charles Street location and enables us to foster a more convenient relationship with our customers," he said.

Interior renovations will include completely updated mechanical and electrical systems and new facilities such as restrooms, kitchenettes and work areas.

The first floor will have a reception area, a trading lobby, broker work stations and meeting rooms. The space will be open to the public and feature monitors running stock market news and computer terminals on which clients can check accounts. The second floor will contain offices and work stations. About 25 to 30 brokerage employees will work there.

Design team members include Jamie Snead, Steve Ziger, James Miller and Nils Eddy.

In keeping with the Downtown Baltimore Beautification Program, Miller said, the designers' exterior improvement plans are aimed at cleaning the building and giving it a "handsome new presence" by repainting the facades, providing new signs and lights, hanging banners or flags on existing poles, restoring ornamental plaques, creating new sidewalks and providing new plants.

"We hope that these outside modifications, coupled with the interior view into the new brokerage lobby, will once again draw people's attention to one of downtown's most unique structures," he said.

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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