One of Baltimore’s most lavishly-decorated restaurant buildings is on the market but the business inside isn’t part of the sale.
The building at 924 N. Charles St. – currently home of The Manor restaurant and ultralounge, and formerly home of The Brass Elephant and The Elephant restaurants – has been listed for sale for $1.5 million, according to a posting on a commercial real estate website, LoopNet.com. The listing agent is Ross Conn of Avenue Real Estate LLC in Gaithersburg. The sale is getting attention because the listing was shared this month on a Facebook page for Mount Vernon residents.
“Great Turn Key restaurant as bar opportunity,” the listing says. Investment highlights include a “$3 Million…Renovation” in 2016 and “Décor valued at over $1M including Tiffany Glass and Waterford Crystal.”
Investors Kevin Standard and Jeremy Lansdowne bought the property in 2019 and signed a lease with Joshua Persing and Robert Gay, who opened The Manor in February 2020.
The listing is for the building but not the restaurant and lounge, Persing said in an email.
“The building was put up for sale by our landlord many, many months ago,” he explained. “They are attempting to sell the building; however, our 10-year lease of the premise will remain intact if sold… Any new buyer has to honor our lease and The Manor will remain open.”
Steeped in history, the four-story building was constructed in the 1850s for Benjamin Chew Howard, a four-term U. S. Congressman and son of wealthy landowner John Eager Howard, and Benjamin’s wife Janet Gilmore, on part of his father’s Belvedere Estate. Later, Brazilian coffee importer Charles Morton Stewart and his wife, Josephine Lurman, bought it as their winter residence.
In the late 1890s, local merchant George Wroth Knapp Jr. purchased it as a second home. He and his wife, Sara Gilfry, filled it with decorative items including crystal chandeliers; marble fireplace mantels, and Lockwood de Forest teak paneling. In the 1930s, it was converted to a store for Potthast Brothers Furniture, which added a large glass storefront to show off the furniture for sale inside.
In the late 1970s, William “Billy” Paley Jr., the son of former CBS network president William S. Paley, led a group of investors who converted the building to a high-end restaurant, The Brass Elephant, which opened in the early 1980s and closed in 2009. From July 2016 to June 2019, it housed a restaurant called The Elephant, operated by Steven and Linda Brown Rivelis.
Gay and Persing preserved the building’s best features while adding their own touches and programming. In 2022, Baltimore Magazine named The Manor a “Best of Baltimore” winner in the category “Best Drag Brunch.”
“Their vision for the lounge is to bring an eclectic, luxurious and modern approach to the Baltimore restaurant, lounge and night club scene,“ The Manor’s website states. “Their vision has led to an experience that is on the cutting edge of style and cuisine.”
Part of the Mount Vernon historic district, the 11,260-square-foot building is zoned for commercial use. According to the real estate listing, decorative features include: chandeliers with Waterford Crystal prisms; mantels carved by sculptor William Henry Rinehart; skylights and interior windows, some with stained glass attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany; bottle glass windows, transoms and doors; a teak dining room; gilded mirrors; elephant-, griffin- and cherub-themed sconces, and “mermaid mastheads.”
The Manor has been closed since Dec. 29, due to a burst water pipe. Its owners said on social media that they’ve already begun repairs and “we will update you as soon as we can on when we will reopen.”