For years a large sign in the Harrisburg Train Station read “In Baltimore It’s the Belvedere.” Built in the days when railroad was king, the Belvedere Hotel is two blocks south from Penn Station. The beautiful Victorian architecture reflects the style of 1910 when the building went up. The Belvedere is a downsized version of the Belleview Stratford in Philadelphia. Though not as imposing as the Belleview, the Belvedere is still stands out among other buildings in North Baltimore.
In the sixties, business in Baltimore began to expand around the Inner Harbor. There was also a decline in passenger railroad service at least for a long haul. Richmond to Boston was still an option. However, very few people were leaving Baltimore for the South, Mid-West, or places west of the Mississippi. The hotel closed and became a dormitory for students from John Hopkins University. After a few years, that arrangement ended. The Belvedere stood vacant like a ghost from the past.
One Victor Frankel bought out and renovated the Belvedere in 1976. Once advertised as convenient to the Central Business District, its appeal now was the opposite. The Belvedere was now a quiet hotel away from conventions and the hectic pace of business.
The Lobby was small and checking in and out was easy. The Owl Cocktail Lounge and Restaurant was an excellent place for lunch, Happy Hour, and dinner. Lunch could get crowded and noisy. Dinner was at a much slower pace. The Owl also had a late supper menu for those who liked the theater before eating. That to me was the right idea. Digestion does not do well competing with a long period of sitting.
About 15 years ago, the Belvedere converted to a condominium. The Owl Bar remains and the 13th Floor has a restaurant as well. All of this came after I moved to Arizona.