Charles Fish and Sons

With a gleaming black marble façade reading "Charles Fish and Sons Company" and Victorian brick arches above, the architecture of this building clearly points to a varied history. The surprising story of the building begins before the start of the American Civil War with the foundation of the nation's first dental school by local doctors Horace Hayden and Chapin Harris. The School of Medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore had rejected their efforts to start a dental school within their institution, perhaps agreeing with the many who saw early dentists as "Ignorant, incapable men whose knowledge was composed of a few secrets which they had purchased at fabulous prices from other charlatans." In 1840, Hayden and Harris turned to the Maryland State Legislature to obtain a charter for an independent dental college—the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.

Popular from the start, over the next forty years the college outgrew four locations finally moving to the corner of Eutaw and Franklin Streets in 1881. The new building stood as a testament to the growth of the science of dentistry and the professionalization of dentists. The Baltimore College of Dentistry occupied this building until 1915, when it became part of the University of Maryland and moved operations to the main campus a few blocks south.

In 1942, Charles Fish and his family moved their furniture and clothing business to 429 Eutaw Street and etched his name on the lustrous art deco storefront. A Jewish Russian immigrant, Fish arrived in the United States as a teenager in 1909 and lived in Virginia for years before moving to Baltimore. As early as 1945, Fish and Sons were noted for their nondiscriminatory policies, which earned them a spot on the Afro-American Newspaper's list of "orchids"–-businesses that welcomed all shoppers, regardless of color. Unlike many of their neighbors, who held fast to "final sale" and "no returns" policies for African Americans in pre-civil rights Baltimore (and thus were listed as "onions" on the Afro-American's pages), Fish and Sons proudly served and hired all Americans, regardless of color. Fish and Sons continued to operate their business at the corner until 1980.

Images

Window detail, 429 North Eutaw Street (2012)

Window detail, 429 North Eutaw Street (2012)

Image of lintel over window on 429 N. Eutaw Street. | Source: Baltimore Heritage | Creator: Kurt Waters View File Details Page

Facade of 429 North Eutaw Street (2012)

Facade of 429 North Eutaw Street (2012)

Exterior view of 429 N. Eutaw Street. | Source: Baltimore Heritage | Creator: Kurt Waters View File Details Page

429 North Eutaw Street (2012)

429 North Eutaw Street (2012)

Exterior view of 429 N. Eutaw Street. | Source: Baltimore Heritage | Creator: Kurt Waters View File Details Page

Street Address:

429 N. Eutaw Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 [map]

Cite this Page:

Shae Adams and Theresa Donnelly, “Charles Fish and Sons,” Explore Baltimore Heritage, accessed May 27, 2017, http://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/items/show/123.

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