In 1973 The American Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland permanently closed its doors, and there it stood, uninhabited and unwanted. Located in a troubled neighborhood, the building has had a difficult time finding an occupant. Its fate stood in question until 2005, when Humanim, a local social service organization, began looking for a new headquarters in the area. When Humanim discovered the brewery, it was love at first sight. What commenced shortly was a long restoration process that has now paid off beautifully.
Built in 1887, the building was originally inhabited by the Weissner Brewery, which closed and sold during Prohibition and re-opened in 1933 as The American Brewery. In 1977 the building was donated to the City of Baltimore. During the 30 years that it stood uninhabited, the building experienced vandalism, water and fire damage, which created a daunting task for Humanim to bring the building up to snuff for their employees and clients.
As an historic building, the exterior was fully restored to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, with a new stairwell added to the rear to bring the building to code. Inside, the original brewery grain chute was incorporated into a lobby space and extends exposed up the entire height of the building. Grain elevators and brew tanks were also retained and re-used to show the history of the building.
Beyond the restoration – which replaced interior wood elements as needed while retaining as much of the original elements as possible – the building got a green upgrade with insulated windows, high efficiency HVAC and lighting, with daylight maximized through massive windows. Salvaged and recycled materials were used throughout. The new building joins other restored buildings in the neighborhood, which has experienced a revitalization. The building is up for a WAN 2012 Award in the category of Adaptive Re-Use for the elegant restoration of the American Brewery.