Historic mansion will get new role Rebirth: Solomon's Corner, a house on Calvert Street, gets a new owner and a new purpose -- as a corporate headquarters.

Urban Landscape

December 10, 1998|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

FOR YEARS IT WAS known as "Little Hopkins" because it was home to Robert Brent Keyser, a longtime president of the board of the Johns Hopkins University.

It has housed doctor's offices and the headquarters of a publishing company.

Last spring, it starred as the Baltimore Symphony Associates Decorators' Show House.

Now Solomon's Corner, as the historic property at 1201 N. Calvert St. is known, is poised to become Baltimore's newest company headquarters -- the home of Brown Capital Management Inc.

Brown president Eddie C. Brown purchased the 55-room mansion this year and wants to move his company there from 809 Cathedral St.

"We have run out of space, and we have been looking to either maintain our headquarters in the city or look in the county," Brown said yesterday.

"We would prefer to maintain our headquarters in the city, where we have been for 15 years, and relocate to this magnificent property. If we can overcome certain obstacles, we would like to begin construction at the beginning of next year and finish work by the end of June" 1999.

Gaudreau Inc. is the architect for the project, and Martin P. Azola is the construction manager.

"We want to maintain the historic character of the building," Brown said. "We want to do a first-class renovation."

Brown Capital Management is an investment counselor and money management firm that manages $4.1 billion in assets for pension systems and numerous other clients. It has 15 employees in Baltimore and one in Dallas.

According to city land records, Brown and his wife Sylvia agreed to pay $350,000 for the five-level, 16,000-square-foot building, which had been listed for $395,000. Herbert Davis Associates represented the seller, and Otis Warren represented the buyer.

The residence was built in 1877 by a man named Solomon Corner. It was considered a country home at the time, and its entrance faced Biddle Street.

In 1893, the mansion was purchased by Keyser, an investor in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and owner of Baltimore Copper Smelting and Rolling Co., in addition to his position as Hopkins trustee.

In 1907, Keyser purchased the house at 1203 N. Calvert St. and combined it with 1201. In the process, he moved the entrance from Biddle Street to Calvert Street and clad the house in white marble.

After Keyser's death in 1927, the house was converted to doctors' offices. In 1978, it was acquired by David McManus, a publisher who made it his residence and the headquarters for his business, Helicon Press.

Although McManus died in 1981, members of his family continued to live there until earlier this year, when they turned it over to the Symphony Associates as the 1998 show house.

The house contains one of the oldest residential elevators in the city, a sweeping spiral staircase, a grand reception hall with concert hall-caliber acoustics, 12 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms and 11 fireplaces. The new owner got to keep many of the improvements made to the building when it was the show house, including two new kitchens.

Broker Herbert Davis said Brown's project is a good use for such a large property, because it wouldn't require it to be cut up into smaller spaces for multiple tenants.

"It's far too large for any one to occupy" as a residence, Davis said. "They're going to do a handsome restoration and preserve the architectural integrity of the building It'll be in excellent hands."

University of Md. plans pharmacists' headquarters

The newest addition planned for the University of Maryland's downtown Baltimore campus is a $1.6 million headquarters for the Maryland Pharmacists Association at Saratoga and Pine streets.

Baltimore's Design Advisory Panel was scheduled today to review plans for the project, which is being designed by RCG Inc. of Baltimore to contain 9,000 square feet of space for the pharmacists' association and 4,500 square feet for the university's school of pharmacy.

Work on the two-story building is tentatively scheduled to begin in early 1999 and be complete in early 2000.

Pub Date: 12/10/98

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