Motor House

Former "Load of Fun" Building on North Avenue

Built in 1914 for Eastwick Motors, Baltimore’s first Ford dealership, 120 West North Avenue has been home to a surprising array of owners and occupants. After its days with Eastwick (a proud supporter of Amoco gasoline and its American Oil Company Baltimore roots), the building changed hands several times. Subsequent dealers sold cars from mostly forgotten manufacturers including Graham Page, Desoto, and Plymouth. By the mid 1930s, Kernan Motors owned the building and sold Nash, Willys, and Jeep vehicles.

As North Avenue transitioned from a corridor for car dealerships, the building became vacant several times before finally becoming home to the Lombard Office Furniture company in the late 1970s. The business sold well-used metal office furniture.

In 2005, the building became an arts center that included the Single Carrot theatre, a gallery, and studios. The name of the space came about by creatively deleting letters from the existing signage. So, “Lombard Office Furniture” became “Load of Fun” Gallery.

Unfortunately, 120 West North Avenue required major renovations to meet the necessary building codes. BARCO, an arts-based development group, acquired the building in 2013 and began making the necessary changes in order to reopen as a hub for the arts. In 2014, the Baltimore Sun quoted project director Amy Bonitz on the unique historic elements of the building:

"The beauty is nobody has messed up the interior. Some of the wonderful features we've uncovered include the original [auto] showroom with a mezzanine where the managers could oversee the work happening throughout the first floor, including the rooms where the sales agreements were finalized.The front facade also contains beautiful leaded-glass windows with large, pivot windows that will be fully restored. The third floor is also a wide-open space with large skylights where mechanics used to work on cars. We will be saving and preserving the old freight elevator that brought the cars up to the upper floors for servicing as well."

The Motor House held a grand reopening in January 2016 with space for performances, artists, a cafe, and gallery.

Images

Motor House

Motor House

The Motor House is one of several recent rehabilitation projects in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. | Source: Baltimore Architecture Foundation | Creator: Brian P. Miller View File Details Page

Entrance, Motor House

Entrance, Motor House

The marquee above the front doors at the Motor House advertise some of the upcoming arts programming in the performance and exhibition spaces. | Source: Baltimore Architecture Foundation | Creator: Brian P. Miller View File Details Page

Street Address:

120 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21218 [map]

Official Website:

Motor House

Cite this Page:

Johns Hopkins, “Motor House,” Explore Baltimore Heritage, accessed July 27, 2017, http://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/items/show/560.

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