A Historical Look at Inner Harbor Hotels: The Monaco Baltimore
The Hotel Monaco Baltimore building had us at hello, from its soaring marble staircases to its sparkling chandeliers. We just knew we had to be a part of preserving this 1906 Beaux Arts gem. We admit: There's no denying the grandeur of this historic site that was once the B&O Railroad Headquarters., and now our Inner Harbor Hotel Monaco.
Designed by Parker & Thomas, the Headquarters opened its doors at midnight on September 12, 1906 to the dazzling spectacle of more than 5,000 electric lights that "burst into fire and presented a grand spectacle," as reported by The Sun. The newspaper went on to point out that Oscar G. Murray, B&O Railroad president, chose to move into his office suite the next day, September 13. "The structure is 13 stories high; Murray started in the railroad business on January 13, 1872; and he was elected the thirteenth president of the railroad," furthered the news report. Of course, Murray's office number was 13 and his phone extension was the same.
Amusing anecdotes aside, the building is known for architectural greatness. The exterior is dignified and monumental, with beautiful carving and ornamental work showing off the craftsmanship of yesteryear. Perhaps one of the most compelling features is the building's statuary over the main entrance. Believed to predate the statuary at New York's Grand Central Station and designed by John Evans & Co. of Boston, the figure of Mercury and an allegorical feature cradling a locomotive represent transportation and commerce.
Walking through the streets of Baltimore is a history lesson in itself. The city springs to life with numerous architectural styles covering more than two centuries and is also the canvas for the work of many famous architects – I.M. Pei, Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe and Benjamin Latrobe among them. Famous for its rowhouses, some dating back to the 1790s, Baltimore is also home to the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the United States, the country's first lasting structure built expressly as a museum, and the tallest equilateral pentagonal building in the world, I.M. Pei's World Trade Center.
Coming full circle, the Hotel Monaco Baltimore, in its historic B&O Headquarters building, is a thriving reminder of an important juncture in the history. It's a symbol of Baltimore's industrially prosperous past and its new resurgence as a thriving place to be for both business and pleasure.