“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Downtown in Baltimore, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Chamber of Commerce Building

Chamber of Commerce Building Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), December 9, 2018
1. Chamber of Commerce Building Marker
Inscription.  Built between 1904 and 1905, this Renaissance Revival building was once the commercial hub of Baltimore's grain trade. Standing five-stories tall and extending the length of a city block, the building was home to the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce, the descendant organization of the Baltimore Corn and Flour Exchange that was established in 1853.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Baltimore was the nation's leading exporter of flour and cereal grains. Until the 1850s, Baltimore's grain trading took place in merchants' offices or at Bowley's Wharf at the Inner Harbor. In February 1853, Baltimore's grain merchants organized the Baltimore Corn and Flour Exchange.

The exchange opened their first headquarters and trading hall at this site in 1882. The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 greatly decimated the building, and the grain merchants (since 1894 called the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce) decided to rebuild on the same site.

Noted Baltimore architect Charles E. Cassell designed the second chamber of commerce building that stands here today. Masonry vaults and the original building's foundations were reused for
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the new structure. Grain trading occurred on the upper floors in a great hall. The lower floors contained offices for grain traders and exporters.

The municipal grain exchange declined over the 1900s as technology and regulations made person-to-person trading unnecessary. The building continued to be used as office space, and later served as a college building.

In 2016 and 2017, the building went through a major rehabilitation and was converted into an extended-stay hotel while retaining major interior features. The exterior of the building was repaired. The interior of the first floor was restored to its original condition, boasting mosaic tile floors and solid copper and brass mail chutes. The original bird-cage elevator cabs have been restored and the mechanism of one of the few functioning hydraulic elevators (circa 1906) has been protected and is on display in the basement.

National Register of Historic Places (Listed 1983)
Baltimore City Landmark (Designated 1986)
Baltimore National Heritage Area

[Image Caption:]
Illustration of the first Chamber of Commerce Building that stood at the corner of Holliday and Second streets from 1882 to 1904.
C.H. Everts, Publisher
Erected by City of Baltimore.
Topics and series. This historical marker
Chamber of Commerce Building Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), December 9, 2018
2. Chamber of Commerce Building Marker
is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureIndustry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Maryland, Baltimore City historical markers series list. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1853.
Location. 39° 17.344′ N, 76° 36.604′ W. Marker is in Baltimore, Maryland. It is in Downtown. Marker is on Commerce Street south of Holliday Street, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 17 Commerce Street, Baltimore MD 21202, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Baltimore Chamber of Commerce (within shouting distance of this marker); Canton House (within shouting distance of this marker); The Garrett Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); First Gas Street Lamp in America (about 300 feet away); Rembrandt Peale (about 300 feet away); American District Telegraph (ADT) (about 400 feet away); In Memorial (about 500 feet away); The Lovely Lane Meeting House (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Baltimore.
<i>Chamber of Commerce, Baltimore, Md.</i> image. Click for full size.
Postcard published by Rotograph Company, New York (image courtesy Enoch Pratt Free Library), circa 1908
3. Chamber of Commerce, Baltimore, Md.
"After the loss of the original Chamber of Commerce building, designed by John Rudolph Niernsee in 1880, in the great fire of 1904, it was rebuilt by Baltimore architect Charles Emmett Cassell in Renaissance revival style. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The fourth floor was the trading floor. Since 1993, the building has been owned by the Baltimore International College that adapted the interiors to its needs. Located at the corner of Water and Commerce Streets."

Note that this is not the pictured on the marker, which is the original Chamber of Commerce Building.

Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 9, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 508 times since then and 113 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 9, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   3. submitted on December 9, 2018. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 20, 2024