Mercantile Library Association Building

Baltimore, MD

Year Built: 1871

Sturgis & Brigham began initial sketches of a new building for the Mercantile Library Association. The association never built a new building.

Brigham wrote, “I find that my staying a few days may be of consequence to us in a business matter, of which I had hoped to have written you some information on Saturday last. The Mercantile Library Association is a body of considerable influence, high character and has a good and large library. One of my friends is President and confided to me a proposal which, until a day or two ago, he was confident would certainly be realized at once. A wealthy gentleman proposes to give them a lot of land and a library building. A difficulty has just arisen in the refusal of a party who owned the land to sell at the price which had been verbally agreed upon and he wants $10,000 more. Still, my friend thinks this trouble may be surmounted and doesn’t despair of the success of the scheme which is a secret between a few people most interested. Whether he will be able to give us the plans without competition is somewhat doubtful, though he would like to do so, but whether Baltimore architects will be asked will probably depend upon this gentleman’s wishes. Now, as I have the measures of the lot of land—have examined it—and have been informed as to their requirements, I think it will be well for us immediately upon my return to make some sketches and if possible be prepared to offer our ideas perhaps before anyone else gets a chance. By that means, we may make an impression which might secure us the job without interference of others. At all events we shall, I know, be certain of perfectly fair competition and I think that we can beat any of these people here easily. [sketch provided of triangular-shaped lot]. Three story building probably fireproof, marble or iron, bank and stores in 1st story, library over principal library room 2 stories in height, reading rooms for gentlemen and ladies, directors rooms, etc.”

No plans are known to survive of this design.


• Letters from Charles Brigham to John Hubbard Sturgis, January 3, 1871 and January 5, 1871, Sturgis Papers, Boston Athenaeum Library.

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