405 East Oliver Street has served as a brewery, a factory, and an upholstery shop. Today, the former factory is home to AREA 405—an arts organization dedicated to showcasing and strengthening the vitality of Baltimore's arts community. This 66,000 square feet warehouse offers unique studio and exhibition space for over 30 artists.
German immigrant Frederick Ludwig established the Albion Brewery in 1848 near Greenmount Avenue—advertised in German as "Albion Brauerei... Belvidere Avenue, nahe Greenmount Avenue, an der alten Belvidere Bruecke." The business sold several times and closed heavily in debt in 1877. Brewer Bernhart Berger picked up the mortgage in 1878 and reopened the business with Frank Molz as brewmaster and modern refrigeration equipment.
In 1904, the C.M. Kemp Company purchased the property adding a four-story brick addition right on top of the original stone brewery. The C.M. Kemp Manufacturing Company made compressed air dryers and shared their space with a wide variety of small businesses. In the 1950s, the building was occupied by Tom-Len—an upholstery and furniture manufacturing firm. In 1970, the Crown Shade Company purchased the building manufacturing thousands of window shades and venetian blinds up until 1989.
In 1989, the Crown Shade Company moved to Rosedale and sold the building to Henry's Shade Company which sold off old stock after Henry's death in 1998. When the group of artists behind Area 405 first toured the building in January 2001, they found it full from floor-to-ceiling with "...defunct machinery, debris, rolls of vinyl, old stock and detritus. Henry's telephones were still ominously blinking with messages, and even with the behemoth stockpile and the chill of vacancy, we knew we had found our home."
In March 2002, 3 Square Feet, LLC purchased the building and has undertaken a monumental renovation project to convert the building into studios. Between 2002 and 2009, they removed 133 industrial-sized dumpsters of debris along with countless tons of cardboard and wood for recycling. Two tractor-trailer loads of vinyl were sent to India to be recycled into roofing material (or possibly super hero figurines—Area 405 is not sure which!) AREA 405 officially opened their doors in February 2003 and has now been a hub of arts activity in Station North for over a decade.