This building was home to Alex. Brown & Sons Company, founded in 1800, the first and oldest continually operating investment banking firm in the United States. The building represents the firm's and Baltimore's importance in the financial world of the nineteenth century.
Built in 1901 to be "fire proof," the building was soon put to the test and survived the Great Fire of 1904 with little damage. The building was designed by Douglas Thomas in the Beaux-Arts style that was rising in popularity in the financial district at the turn of the century. The 1905-1907 addition designed by Beecher, Friz and Gregg was stylistically and materially identical. This building was the first in the United States to be heated exclusively with electricity.
The building was acquired by Chevy Chase Bank of Bethesda, Maryland in 1995. A thorough historical renovation of the building's interior was completed in 1996 when it was reopened as a traditional retail bank branch. The beautiful stained glass dome, probably the work of Baltimore artist Gustave Baumstark (who studied under both Louis C. Tiffany and John LaFarge), was cleaned and refurbished. The marble columns and the plaster moldings of the great banking hall were restored to their original designs. During the renovation the original teller line was reconstructed. Even such details as the design and placement of the freestanding furniture now in existence in the bank branch were designed to mimic the original furniture.
The Alex. Brown & Sons building was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Baltimore fire of 1904. It was the only one to retain its elaborate architectural facade, marble and bronze interior, and stained glass dome. (Photo taken shortly after the Fire which occurred in February of 1904. Photographer unknown, Collection of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD).