BNHA Baltimore Trust Company Building

Interpretive Framework

Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century

Star Attractions

Cultural Walk

Resource Type

Points of Interest

10 Light St

Baltimore, Maryland 21202

The skyscraper at 10 Light Street is Baltimore’s premier Art Deco skyscraper and was built by the Baltimore Trust Company during the height of the Roaring ’20s. The architectural masterpiece rises 34 stories above the street, making it the tallest building in the city at the time and downtown’s only “setback” skyscraper.

Following the national trend of treating business towers, such as New York’s Empire State and Chrysler buildings, as “cathedrals of commerce,” the Baltimore Trust Building combines a geometrically abstracted, early-20th-century Moderne aesthetic with towers, gargoyles, and other Gothic architectural forms. The skyscraper’s ornaments may be observed in the bronze door and window surrounds, the relief sculpture of the limestone lower levels, and the carved and gilded ornamental spires that feature crabs and clipper ships in reference to the city’s maritime heritage. Other emblems of the company’s commercial identity – such as the beehive representing industriousness, grapes representing abundance, and the owl representing wisdom – are evident in the carved details.

Unfortunately, the Baltimore Trust Company went bankrupt in the stock market crash of October 1929, and the building was closed and stood vacant for ten years. When Bank of America acquired the tower from its previous owner and chief occupant, Maryland National Bank, they restored the gilding on the roof and illuminated the tower with the golden light that makes it so distinctive today. The building is currently being renovated and will become welcome tenants as an apartment building.