May 4th 2024

Discover the Lord Baltimore Hotel, which is named after the founder of the Colony of Maryland, George Calvert.
Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Lord Baltimore Hotel has been a cherished member of Historic Hotels of America since 2005. Named for George Calvert—Lord Baltimore and founder of the Maryland colony—the Lord Baltimore Hotel was the last high-rise building developed with classical ornamentation in downtown Baltimore. It was originally owned by Harry Busick, a native of nearby Calvert County who was an incredibly accomplished local hotelier. In fact, he had even managed a business called the “New Howard Hotel” early in his career. Busick had actually operated a much smaller hotel on the site several years prior known as the “Caswell House.” Standing seven stories tall, it had run successfully for some time. Yet, the great Baltimore Fire of 1904 had burnt it completely to the ground. Busick had already considered erecting a much larger facility, though, and used the tragedy as an opportunity to put his plan into action. He spent the better part of the next two decades acquiring enough capital to construct the new hotel, with construction finally beginning in earnest in the late 1920s. For the project, Busick hired the renowned architect William Lee Stoddart to oversee the design effort. A graduate of Columbia University, Stoddart had already created numerous hotels throughout the United States, including the Francis Marion Hotel in South Carolina (which is also a Member of Historic Hotels of America). Many historians today consider the Lord Baltimore Hotel to be among his finest achievements. Designed using a brilliant blend of the Beaux-Arts—with elements of the Italian and French Renaissance architecture—the magnificent hotel was nearly three times as large as its predecessor. At the time, it even dominated the local skyline as Maryland’s largest building!

Harry Busick debuted his beautiful new business as the “Lord Baltimore Hotel” to great acclaim during the winter of 1928. Many in the city attended its opening gala, including Governor Albert Richie, Baltimore mayor William F. Broening, and the oldest living relative of the royal Baltimore family. The ceremonies were broadcast live from a local radio station, WBAL, as well. Busick died shortly thereafter, though, with his sons running the business in his absence. Under their watch, the Lord Baltimore Hotel became immensely popular. Every guest was amazed by the building’s brilliant décor and cutting-edge amenities that awaited them inside. As such, the business remained strong for years, even as the Great Depression and World War II impacted Baltimore’s greater hospitality industry. Dozens of the nation’s leading celebrities visited at one point or another, including the likes of celebrated pilot Amelia Earhart and the legendary Babe Ruth. In 1958, the Busicks defied the local ordinances that disallowed African Americans from staying inside the hotel. Among the first guests to stay were the great baseball superstars Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson, all of whom had traveled to the city to play in that year’s All-Star Game. Then, a decade later, the great civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., reserved a guestroom at the Lord Baltimore Hotel to attend a regional meeting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Dr. King also gave a lengthy press interview from the building and received the keys to the city from then-mayor Tommy D’Alessandro III. And Democratic candidate Harry Hughes hosted his campaign headquarters inside the Lord Baltimore Hotel amid his successful bid for the Maryland governorship in 1978.

The Busick brothers sold the hotel during the 1960s, which began a period of fluid ownership that lasted for several years. Unfortunately, the business had already started to decline somewhat, as the entire downtown area of Baltimore stagnated. Eventually, a company by the name of “Federated Hotels, Inc.,” acquired the location and tried to resurrect interest with it through a massive renovation. But the plan proved to be futile, and the Lord Baltimore Hotel ultimately closed its doors to an uncertain future in 1982. After a few more attempts to restore the business had failed, Universal Equities purchased the site. It subsequently formed a partnership with Radisson Hotels, and together, they both operated the facility as the “Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore.” The building subsequently underwent a series of much needed renovations, reviving some of its former glory in the process. Yet, the hotel’s true rebirth did not occur until the Rubell family bought the structure in 2013. The owners of Rubell Hotels, the Rubells proceeded to end the relationship with Radisson in favor of relaunching the facility as an independent operation. The Rubells have since invested millions into its upkeep, ensuring that future generations would appreciate its brilliant history and world-class service for years to come. Their time as the hotel’s steward has also received great praise, as dozens of organizations have bestowed onto the business numerous awards and accolades. Among the titles that the Lord Baltimore has earned include “Daily Record 2020 Coolest Spaces,” “U.S. News #7 in Top 25 Maryland Hotels,” “MSN Most Glamorous Hotel Maryland,” and “Tripadvisor Circle of Excellence.” Historic Hotels of America has even granted one of its prestigious Awards of Excellence to the hotel back in 2014!