The Stafford was once an elegant hotel serving the elite of Baltimore and the many high-profile figures visiting the city. The hotel was designed by founding member of the Baltimore AIA chapter Charles E. Cassell and when it opened in 1894, it was the tallest building in Mt. Vernon. The entrance opened up to a highly ornamented hallway tiled with Romanesque designs. According to the Baltimore Sun, the ceilings were relieved with elaborate friezes and bordered with flecks of gold. The hotel also had a specified ladies parlor on the second floor for women traveling alone complete with a writing room and a cafe.
Over time, the Stafford Hotel was visited by dignitaries, movie stars, musicians, and famous writers. It was a favorite hotel of Katharine Hepburn and opera star Rosa Ponselle who would come to the hotel to get fitted by traveling English tailors. The Stafford was also the last place where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in Baltimore before moving to Hollywood.
Perhaps the most interesting place in the Stafford Hotel was the bar overlooking the statue of Revolutionary War hero John Eager Howard. The bar was known across town as being highly exclusive. Only the most esteemed guests were served drinks and even then they had to woo the bartender. On one particular night on December 26, 1936, F. Scott Fitzgerald got the attention of many of the bar's patrons after racking up a $22.36 tab, a figure that would amount to about $370 today.
The Stafford Hotel fell on hard times after it closed in 1973 and was turned into federally subsidized apartments. By the turn of the twenty-first century it had become a seedy center for prostitution and drugs. Johns Hopkins University acquired the building in 2002 thanks to legislation that made it possible to turn federally subsidized housing into student housing. Now the Stafford Hotel serves as apartments exclusively for Johns Hopkins and Peabody students.