Beneath the old Federal Reserve Bank in Baltimore, today the Lenore
The Federal Reserve Bank building at Lexington and Calvert streets became the Lenore apartments two years ago. Today, it blends historic architecture with modern design elements — and the unique interior has caught the attention of the House of Cards location scouts.
Did we mention there’s a secret tunnel?
Say you’re building a bank in the 1920s. Not just any bank, a Federal Reserve Bank, the mother of banks, from where the money comes, to where the money goes, perhaps where it meets its end, and gets burned up when it becomes too worn out to use as legal tender. In the twenties, the age of the gangster bank robbers, the strongest vaults in the world are required, as well as a guard tower with a hole for his submachine gun. Given bandits’ fondness for attacking mail trucks carrying cash, it’s only practical to dig out an underground tunnel that connects to the Post Office across the street.
These are the considerations that went into the construction of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s branch in downtown Baltimore, located at the corner of Calvert and Lexington Streets. On the eve of the building’s opening in 1928, The Sun wrote that nearly $6 million in cash had been transferred from the bank’s old location at South and Redwood streets to the new one, under the watchful eye of heavily armed guards and Secret Service agents. Once inside the building, the bags of money were quickly stashed inside the vault, “said to be one of the strongest in the country.”
(But not all the money got stored. In 1968, The Sun reported that an average of $1 million in bills were burned up every weekday at the building, after it had been determined they were too worn out to be used anymore.)
In the 1980s, though, the Feds moved to a larger location near the Inner Harbor, and the opulent old building became home to the Provident Bank of Maryland. After that bank went under, the building was purchased by Baybridge Properties-Lexington LLC and transformed into its current incarnation, the upscale Lenore apartments.
A tour through the Lenore apartments today shows how this unique historic space has been transformed for modern use. An old boardroom on the tenth floor is now a classy common space. The guard’s lookout tower still looms over the opulent main lobby. But some things have stayed put: two behemoth vaults in the basement are abandoned, unused – their metals chipped off in areas by thieves over the years. A fallout shelter is home only to a large variety of black molds. And the tunnel that once led to the Post Office and Courthouse across the street has been blocked off at the end.
But there is one purpose for all this stuff: Hollywood.
Erik Lamb, property manager for the Lenore, reports that several scenes from the upcoming season of “House of Cards” have been filmed in various locations throughout the building. So stay tuned.
A previous version of this story referred to the Lenore apartments as condos. The Sun regrets the error.