The History of the Alcazar Hotel

Archive, School News, School Year 2021-22

By: Frances Philippe-Auguste

Every day students at The Baltimore School for the Arts attend their classes in a building that looks a bit different than most schools. There is a reason for the look of the building and it dates back to about 100 years ago.

In 1924, the Alcazar Ballroom opened its doors for the Knights of Columbus. The Knights of Columbus are a Catholic organization that was founded in New Haven, Connecticut in 1822. When the Knights of Columbus started to expand, the organization moved to Baltimore. The Knights would use the ballroom as a meeting place. 

After a while, The Alcazar started to expand what it used its building for. The unique architecture of the ballroom with the domed ceilings and bronze gold design.

The ballroom would host grand dances for Baltimoreans. They would have the local artists of the 1960’s come to play music in the ballroom. It was a good way for people to gather, have a good time, and enjoy some great music. 

The hotel also became very popular for hosting celebrities.Two of the most popular guests of the time were pilot Charles Lindbergh and Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman.

By the 1970’s, it slowly started to lose its business. It was then approached in 1979 by Baltimore City to be used for the Baltimore school for the Arts Highschool. Baltimore School for the Arts opened in 1980. 

The school functioned with only the hotel until 2004 when they acquired the brownstone home next door to it. The history of the mansion goes back farther than the history of the hotel. The Mansion was built in 1850, 74 years before the Alcazar Hotel opened. 

The mansion was famous for its time, as it was considered one of the nicest townhomes in Baltimore. The mansion was the home of William H. Graham. He was the director of the first investment bank, Alexander Brown and Co. He was also the son-in-law of George Brown who was a famous figure in the banking business at the time. In the 1930’s the mansion was turned into an apartment building. One of the most famous residents was H. L. Mencken who was a Baltimore-born journalist.

The Baltimore School for the Arts’ building is a large part of Baltimore’s history. Everyday, students attend school in a building that fits the artistic vibe of the learning that happens there. 

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