The summary, description, and history are excerpted from the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties form prepared by Janet L. Davis, Historical Preservation Analyst for CHAP in April 1986.

Summary

The Gomprecht and Benesch Building is a six-story brick commercial building in a Renaissance Revival style erected in 1901 on the west side of North Eutaw Street about 100 feet south of West Mulberry Street in central Baltimore, Maryland. The five-bay facade has large industrial plate glass vertical pivot windows flanked by Ionic and Corinthian columns. The heavy overhanging cornice has dentils, foliated modillions, and lion heads. The Roman brick side piers have medallions and lion heads below the intermediate cornice. The street level storefront is altered and consists of plate glass windows across the entire front flanked by polished granite panels at the sides. The entrance has been relocated to the north elevation. In 1986, the building was occupied by a printing service. The building was later used by The Tunnel nightclub which closed in 2002.

The building caught on fire in the late evening hours of Saturday, January 14, 2017 . On Sunday, January 15, 2017, the Baltimore Sun reported that Baltimore City Fire Department Chief Roman Clark said the building “continued burning Sunday afternoon as collapsed floors have blocked firefighters from the flames”.

Detail of the cornice of the Gomprecht and Benesch Building, March 1986. Photograph by Janet Davis.

Courtesy the Maryland Historical Trust.

Recent Updates

Building History

The Gomprecht and Benesch Building is a good example of an early 20th century retail store building. It closely resembles the Bernheimer Brothers Annex (B-2314) on West Fayette Street, suggesting that both buildings were designed by the same architect, Charles E. Cassell. Gomprecht and Benesch and its predecessor company, Eutaw Furniture Company, were located on the site from 1883 until 1962.

In 1883, Isaac Benesch opened a branch of his furniture store at 549-553 North Gay Street at 316 North Eutaw Street, calling it the Eutaw Furniture Company. The business expanded into 318 North Eutaw within six years and in 1897, Jacob Gomprecht took over the store) retaining the name. The original store was a five-story brick building. In 1901, Gomprecht took as partner Jesse Benesch, son of Isaac, and the firm became Gomprecht and Benesch.

One source, The Jews of Baltimore by Isidor Blum (1910), stated the Gomprecht and Benesch Building was built the same year that Benesch joined the company. The city directories seem to support this, listing the store as 316-318 North Eutaw before 1900 and 316-320 after 1900, suggesting expansion to an existing building on the lot. The facade’s close resemblance to the Bernheimer Brothers Annex on West Fayette Street suggests a common architect and about 1907 as the construction date.

Later known as the Maran Building, the property was listed at auction in 2010 along with the adjoining C&P Telephone Building.

Building Description

A.J. Billing & Co. published floor plans for 312-322 N. Eutaw Street in advance of the November 2010 auction.

The building has six stories, a flat sloping roof, and an elaborate columned facade. The first story storefront is altered. Between polished granite piers, a slightly projecting window wall extends across the front. The entrance has been shifted to the north elevation, formerly a party wall but now partially exposed by the setback of the modern adjoining building. The original transom is recessed behind an awning framework. Above the transom is a sign panel bearing the name of the current occupant Maran Printing Services, and the street number. Flanking the sign panel on each pier is a lion head above a rectangular medallion.

The upper facade is virtually unaltered Roman brick piers frame the bays. The facade is horizontally divided into two ranks of columns extending through two stories. The lower rank is Ionic and the upper is Corinthian. Each floor has three-part vertical pivoting plate glass windows. An intermediary cornice separates the fifth and sixth stories. Just below the cornice on the side piers are scrolled medallions. The sixth story has pairs of deeply recessed single pane windows which appear to have modern aluminum frames.

The transoms are small and have multiple lights. Brick piers separate the windows, alternating with larger piers between each pair. The side piers have lion heads and lozenge medallions. The main cornice has a wide overhang with foliated modillions, dentils, and lion heads.

January 2017 Fire

Historic Images

Portrait of Jacob Gomprecht Gomprecht & Benesch Building on Eutaw Street Gomprecht and Benesch Building Sales catalogue from Gomprecht & Benesch for private three-day sale
Gomprecht and Benesch Building

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