Former Congress Hotel building to go to auction

A landmark apartment building on Baltimore's West Side, the 36-unit Congress Hotel, is going on the auction block. The foreclosure auction will be at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the Clarence M. Mitchell Court House, according to the website for Alex Cooper Auctioneers, which is handling the sale.

The eight-story building, constructed in 1903 and once known as the Kernan Hotel, was renovated to contain 12 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom apartments nearly 10 years ago by Kernan Apartments LLC, an affiliate of Struever Bros., Eccles and Rouse, which invested $7.2 million in the project. In addition to the upper-level apartments, the property includes a renovated ballroom and mezzanine; the "Marble Bar," once a popular night spot; and leasehold interest in nine parking spaces.

The hotel was built by theater entrepreneur James Kernan and called the Kernan Hotel until 1932, when it was purchased by Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. and renamed the Congress Hotel. A tunnel connected the hotel to two theaters along Howard Street. Performers who appeared at the theaters and stayed at the hotel included Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Al Jolson and the Marx Brothers. Henry Fonda and Margaret Sullavan were married there, and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced at the Marble Bar.

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