In downtown Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, cobblestone sidewalks and stately row houses belie the area’s long-held reputation as one of the city’s most eccentric zip codes. These streets have been a hub for artists, writers and the social elite that love them since the 19th century, when culture clubs – such as the Charcoal Club, in which artists sketched live models – ruled the scene.
Mount Vernon, a stone’s throw from downtown, is still steeped in the arts today, with the Walters Art Museum and George Peabody Library serving as flagships. This creative energy is the inspiration for the design of Hotel Indigo Baltimore Downtown. As Lissa Pierce, interior designer and regional manager of property improvements for Hotel Indigo, puts it, design firm ai3 “pulled the sophistication out of the neighborhood but kept that quirky originality,” all while asking the question: “What would it be like if you walked into a local’s row house?”
The answer: Pretty darn fascinating. So we asked Lissa to share her favorite design elements to discover at the hotel – eagle eyes will be rewarded:
The guest room murals are a nod to Baltimore’s literati.
“The mural of a bookcase behind the headboard is a sketch – going back to that artistic sketch quality of the past, but done in a more modern way. The sketch is heavy on millwork, kind of ornate, and the shelves are filled with items that tie back to Baltimore. So that’s a hidden thing within a major element: All of the books and statues tell a story. Look in the mural because there’s a lot to notice within it.”
Every pattern has a local backstory.
“Patterns are a huge thing in this hotel. All of the patterns – the fabrics, wall coverings, tiles – throughout the hotel mimic the architectural and ornate decorative patterns around the neighborhood. Look for the pattern on the beds and how it ties back to glass windows found in the Peabody Library.”
The art in the restaurant isn’t what you think.
“The mural on the ceiling of the restaurant is a nod back to the Charcoal Club. It’s actually a charcoal drawing of a lady. You kind of have to lean back, look up and position yourself so you can tell it’s a person, because it’s very abstract.
“There’s a new mural on the side wall of the restaurant that looks like a photograph of a bike leaning up against a brick wall. It is a pencil sketch and it is amazing. It looks like a photograph, but it’s done in pencil. And then of course they blew it up really big. Ownership is working with local artists and adding additional pieces using those same mediums that they used back when all of these cultural clubs were in their heyday.”
The fitness center winks at the building’s former identity.
“The mural here is a vintage tieback because the hotel used to be a YMCA. It’s all of these people working out in a vintage image.”