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Guilford Hall Brewery arrives at old Crown Cork and Seal location in Baltimore’s Greenmount West neighborhood

There’s a temporary sign in the Greenmount West community announcing the arrival of the Guilford Hall Brewery, a newcomer to one of Baltimore’s under-the-radar neighborhoods.

In another six or eight weeks, the taps are scheduled to be flowing as the Station North area gets a its own version of a made-from-hops beer hall and restaurant.

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It has taken three years, and $3 million, for developer Stefan Popescu to buy, renovate and equip this remarkable transformation of the old Industrial Roll building at 1611 Guilford Ave. near East Lanvale Street.

“We’ll be one of the larger destinations that will be able to handle more than 200 persons in the Baltimore area,” said Popescu. “When I first walked in, this a working factory. It was a blank canvas. The last thing on the second floor was the sculpture studio of artist Raoul Middleman.”

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From left, Stefan Popescu, developer, is joined by Martin Coad, director of operations and brew master, Des Comer, manager, and Kathleen Lechleiter, president of Twopoint architectural studio, in the tasting room of the new Guilford Hall Brewery in the old Crown Cork and Seal garage and horse stables on Guilford Avenue.
From left, Stefan Popescu, developer, is joined by Martin Coad, director of operations and brew master, Des Comer, manager, and Kathleen Lechleiter, president of Twopoint architectural studio, in the tasting room of the new Guilford Hall Brewery in the old Crown Cork and Seal garage and horse stables on Guilford Avenue. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Once part of the sprawling Crown Cork & Seal industrial campus, the brewery’s 20 stainless steel tanks fill the brew house end of the property. The south side, toward the Amtrak tracks and the Guilford Avenue bridge and Copy Cat Building, houses a large bar-restaurant. Upstairs is another floor linked by a new industrial-look staircase.

The brewery and drinking hall have some low-key neighbors. Across the street is the Baltimore Montessori School, and around the corner on Barclay is the Baltimore Design School. Numerous homes along Barclay, Lanvale, Lafayette and Oliver streets near Green Mount Cemetery have been renovated in the last decade.

Guilford Hall’s top floor is expansive — nearly a city block long, with dozens of windows that look out over the old cemetery and Greenmount West neighborhood rooftops. It’s easy to spot other landmarks — Penn Station and the steeples of Corpus Christi and Brown Memorial churches in the far distance in Bolton Hill.

The top floor functions as an event space but would have been called a ballroom in another era. It has a maple wood floor and serving stations. The spot calls out for good times.

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Martin Coad, the brewmaster and operations director, says his tanks will make Pilsners and lagers based on lower-alcoholic-content styles of beers popular in Vienna and Bavaria. It’s the first large new restaurant built east of the Charles Street commercial corridor in these parts for a long time.

A worker preps the wall behind the bar of the new Guilford Hall Brewery, which has its name emblazoned on the salvaged wood bar in the tasting room.
A worker preps the wall behind the bar of the new Guilford Hall Brewery, which has its name emblazoned on the salvaged wood bar in the tasting room. (Amy Davis)

An effort has been made to give Baltimore’s artisan community a chance to get some of the construction work.

The custom circular overhead light fixtures came right from the neighborhood. Workers at Magma Build Studios, on East Oliver Street, made these huge lighting devices that, in a 2021 way, mimic an Oktoberfest setting.

The bars were made by Anything Wood and Metal in Woodberry and Devoshin Brothers in White Hall in northern Baltimore County. Elemental Metalworks, in Pigtown, made the staircases and helped with tables and chairs.

“When you walk in Baltimore’s post-industrial buildings from the 19th century, you feel their magic. They just light up,” said architect David Lopez of the Twopoint Studio. “They tell you something about where they’ve been and their history. You want to clean them up, brush them off and expose their history.

“There may be holes in the roof or broken windows, but there’s also the warm, aged look of the walls. It’s like you are in Rome. You feel transported to another time,” said Lopez, the project architect.

The Crown Cork and Seal garage and horse stables, adorned with a carved brownstone head and date on top of the pediment above the entrance in the 1600 block of Guilford Avenue, has been converted into the Guilford Hall Brewery.
The Crown Cork and Seal garage and horse stables, adorned with a carved brownstone head and date on top of the pediment above the entrance in the 1600 block of Guilford Avenue, has been converted into the Guilford Hall Brewery. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

“We respected the original building as much as possible. It was a gorgeous building,” said Karl Nunn of Elite Contracting Solutions. “When we had to modify anything, we tried to make it look in-kind with the original structure.”

Nunn, who also is repurposing old buildings at Brown’s Arcade on Charles Street and in Fells Point, said he found evidence of the brewery building’s smoky past.

“There was still coal in the basement,” he said.

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