Hopkins Buys Hampden’s Historic Stieff Silver Complex for $17.55M

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Photo by Frederic C. Chalfant, via Wikimedia Commons

The iconic Stieff Silver buildings in southern Hampden are now part of Johns Hopkins University’s real estate portfolio.

The school closed a transaction today with the property’s former owner, KS Wyman Park Development Company LLC. The company had owned the two buildings since 2007. The sale price was $17.55 million, according to university spokesman Dennis O’Shea.

Formerly the Stieff Silver factory, the buildings have housed labs and research facilities for Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering for the last 15 years. Hopkins says the complex will still hold those labs while also providing temporary space for its offices and departments as the Whiting School’s permanent Homewood campus facilities are being renovated.

“The Whiting School is proud that a site so important to Baltimore’s history is now a part of our own,” said the school’s dean, T.E. “Ed” Schlesinger, in a statement. “Engineers like our faculty and students are in a unique position to appreciate both the craftsmanship and the artistry of those who produced much-admired silverware at Stieff for so many decades.”

He added, “I like to think that those Stieff craftsmen would admire and appreciate the advances that will come out of our work in their former buildings.”

Charles C. Stieff started his silversmithing firm at 110 W. Fayette Street downtown in 1892, according to Baltimore Heritage. His family purchased the complex in Hampden in 1924, and finished building the first of the two buildings in 1925. The second building was added in 1970.

The factory operated until 1999, at times shifting its production to different good, such as during World War II when it produced electronics, radar parts and surgical instruments, according to its filing in the National Register of Historic Places. The firm returned to silver in 1946, though it increasingly produced pewter reproductions and gifts in the second half of the 2oth century.

The company assumed the name Kirk-Stieff for its final 20 years after purchasing S. Kirk and Son in 1979. That silversmithing firm that had been operating in Baltimore since 1815.

The complex was added to the National Register in 2000, one year after it shut down.

Hopkins plans to continue a local favorite tradition of lighting up the Stieff Silver sign up top with red and green bulbs during the holidays, according to a release. The sign was built in two stages in 1925 and 1929.

In addition Whiting School offices, the complex houses non-university tenants, including a shop for the Boy Scouts of America. University spokesman Dennis O’Shea said in an email that “all current leases remain in effect.”

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Good coverage of Hopkins purchase of Stieff Silver building, including history. Most happy to know that maybe the best sign in Baltimore (second only to Domino Sugars) will remain.

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