From Pigtown Design – The Baltimore Architecture Foundation, where I am Board Chair, frequently gives tours of buildings which are still in the construction phase. One of our Board members arranged for us to tour the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s “new” headquarters, which is actually a building that’s more than a century old!
The building was used as a bank for about the first 100 years and then it was renovated and became a series of progressively worse nightclubs before it was finally shuttered. The most jaw-dropping thing about the space is its incredible ceiling.
The entire building is coffered in these ceilings and they are just simply stunning. The bank had dropped the ceilings by about 2/3 and the nightclub owners had received historic tax credits to take out the drop ceilings to expose these. These probably aren’t the original colours, but the ceiling was in such good shape, the CSC decided not to repaint.
I was so intrigued that I took loads of images of it. The grid-like structure hanging from the ceiling will be used for some lighting.
It was actually difficult to get a picture of the whole ceiling because of the stage in the center of the room. It’s going to be a theatre in the round, and should be a fabulous venue from to watch the plays. This is looking into the theatre,
and this is from the opposite angle.
There are many remnants of the original bank, including some serious security measures. All of the windows have quarter-inch thick iron shutters which could be locked from within. The windows also had re-enforced glass with iron bars.
There was a massive safe on the main floor and some bright spark in the nightclub years tried to cut through it.
The ceiling is supported by a number of elaborate columns. You can see their scale here.
It was fun to see the architectural drawings of them, too.
Even the outside had security measures. There’s a step in this picture with a ring above it. The night patrolman could hoist himself on the step, hang on to the ring and peer inside to see if all was well.
Here’s our friend David modeling the step!
The exterior of the building is as interesting as the inside.
It is filled with amazing details carved into the brownstone.
Thanks to the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and Southway Builders for a great tour.
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