Final gifts

Windfall: As the Alex. Brown name recedes, charities benefit from $11 million in unexpected grants.

April 06, 2002

WHEN Alex. Brown & Sons started here in 1800, Baltimore had a population of 26,514, including 2,843 slaves. Over the next two centuries, the investment house played a more pivotal role in the city's growth and development than any other corporation.

Even though Deutsche Bank AG has now effectively eradicated the Alex. Brown brand name, its hometown influence will continue.

An unexpected infusion of $11 million in charitable grants to 34 local organizations will see to it. Among the big beneficiaries of the distribution, announced last week, are the Baltimore Zoo, which is in the midst of an ambitious modernization drive, the Baltimore Opera Company, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, art museums and hospitals.

Trustees of the Alex. Brown & Sons Charitable Foundation decided to give away half their $21 million in assets to make sure that future stewards would not divert the money away from deserving local causes. The money, they felt, should do good in Baltimore.

Their decision is in keeping with the philosophy of Alexander Brown himself. He had great faith in Baltimore's future and in the nation's economic prospects. But he recognized that levelheaded caution would guarantee the best results.

"Be satisfied with a reasonable return," he admonished one of his sons. "Do not attempt too much. It is a mistake."

That wisdom lives on even as the Alex. Brown name recedes.

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