Sunday, December 4, 2011

When Club One was the House of Welsh


House of Welsh in 1943. Note the Guilford Elevated streetcar line.
At one time, what was 301 Guilford Avenue (at some point over time the address was switched to 300 E. Saratoga St) was called the House of Welsh a long time Baltimore steakhouse and restaurant. Originally opened in 1900 it occupied the corner buildings for 98 years. A 1998 article in The Baltimore Sun details the history of the House of Welsh on the eve of its closure. With the demolition of these three buildings yesterday marks the end of some of the oldest houses that stood near downtown. The houses were build in the 1830s, some of the only other houses of the same period were on St. Paul Street and were demolished to make way for the new Mercy Medical Center tower.

Inside these buildings make have taken place some of the more little known, but nonetheless interesting stories in Baltimore's history. In 1904, at the height of the Great Baltimore Fire, a telegraph line was hooked up inside the building so news reports and requests for firefighters could be sent, since the city's telegraph office had been destroyed by fire. Later on, it wasn't uncommon to see city council meetings going on in the upstairs dining room.
At one point the buildings were painted black, adorned with advertisements as can be seen by the pictures. Eventually, by the time the restaurant closed it was covered with the dull gray formstone that we were more familiar with.

House of Welsh in 1947, courtesy of The Baltimore Sun

These photos from the 1940s show a side of Baltimore that has faded away in many ways. With the demolition yesterday the last of these buildings are gone, the others in the background have long since been replaced with the massive parking lot. Unfortunately, this has happened all too often in our downtown; buildings knocked down for future development that does not materialize. While we cannot bring back the way these buildings used to look like, let's hope something that adds to the fabric of downtown actually gets built, so we aren't left with an addition to a surface parking lot.

2 comments:

  1. My father ate at the House of Welsh when he was in med.school. He took me. I ate there often when I was at the Sunpapers. I took my son. He ate there....
    A tragic to a family and to the city!

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