Doors Open Baltimore Seeks To Discover Hidden Gems

Architectural walking tour highlights more than 50 of the city's historic structures.

By Gabriella Souza. Posted on October 19, 2015, 4:05 pm

-Courtesy of Church & Company

The most striking part of the old Hampden Presbyterian Church is the incredible, lofted ceiling, its two sides coming to a point above stone walls.

It allows sound to bounce around exquisitely, from the weathered wood floors to the stained glass windows, enveloping the gothic-style furnishings and décor.

This 140-year-old church hasn’t served its original purpose in decades. But the building has taken on a new life as the event space Church & Company, hosting weddings, kimchi tastings, and concerts alike.

“It’s breathtaking,” said Chelsea Thomas, an architect and event chair of Doors Open Baltimore. “There’s nothing else like it in Baltimore.”

The story line of history paired with re-birth is part of the reason that the space was included in the second Doors Open Baltimore, an architectural walking tour that highlights more than 50 historic structures throughout the city. On Saturday, visitors can take tours of the buildings and attend special programs, all for free.

The aim of the event, sponsored by Baltimore’s chapter of the American Institute of Architects called AIABaltimore, is to highlight the sometimes hidden architectural feats of the city and to get visitors acquainted with neighborhoods they don’t always visit. You can take in the Tiffany glass displays in Bolton Hill’s Brown Memorial Church, find out secrets about Baltimore’s fourth-tallest skyscraper, and visit a Quaker meeting house built in 1781.

Church & Company’s building, which is also home to vintage boutique Hunting Ground, was designed by George Frederick, the architect behind City Hall. It served a variety of functions, including as a travel agency, until Alex Fox leased the space, tearing out walls and a drop ceiling, and chipping away layers of paint.

It’s a perfect example of what can happen in many Baltimore buildings yet to be discovered, said Nathan Dennies of AIABaltimore and a friend of Fox’s.

“If you have a vision, as an artist you can make it your own.”

Gabriella Souza is the arts and culture editor for Baltimore magazine, where she covers arts, entertainment, music, and culture.
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