The Vickers Building represents a shift in downtown Baltimore architectural design that occurred directly after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 and is one of the largest buildings to utilize brick as a primary material in the Central Business District. Most of the other buildings rebuilt in the area were made of stone. Masonry was popular after the Great Fire because of fireproofing concerns.
Before the Great Fire, many buildings (including the old Vickers Building the new one replaced) were built in the ornate Second Empire style and featured sloping Mansard roofs and complex architectural details. This changed after the Great Fire. Architects took a more pragmatic approach to rebuilding the Central Business district and were pressured to create buildings that were cost-efficient, fire safe, and could be erected quickly. Because of all the national attention after the Fire, the city wanted to show the rest of the country its stability and they wanted to do it quickly.
The permit for the Vickers Building was issued on May 19, 1904, only three months after the fire. Many of the building’s properties indicate fire-conscious planning: it’s made of brick; it has a flat roof because people believed spacious Mansard roof attics contributed to the spread of the Fire; and the bay windows recede into the building rather than protrude outwards.
Not all ornamentation was eschewed from the construction of the Vickers Building. Stone lion heads adorn the topmost bay windows and a band of terra cotta runs along the street facing side of the roof. The interior is home to Werner’s Restaurant: a mainstay in the area since 1951.