Known Name(s)

Smith's Hotel


Druid Hill Ave. & Paca St. (435-437-1/2 Druid Hill Avenue) Baltimore, Maryland

Establishment Type(s)


Physical Status



Based on photos from the September 10, 1938 Afro-American newspaper (“Here’s Smith’s Hotel, Baltimore, One-Time Political Center” p. 12), Smith’s Hotel opened in circa 1912, and consisted of three row houses joined together into a single address at 435 Druid Hill Avenue. Although all three buildings were three stories tall, the western-most building was a half-story shorter than the other two which had been built about the same time. Each was of brick that appears in the photo to have been painted. A cornice defined the top of each south façade wall. The western-most building was of three bays, and the one-over-one windows had jack-arch frames. The ground floor was part of a continuous store front that extended across the adjoining buildings. By 1940, a photo with caption indicates that the south façade had been clad in “nu brick” a type of formstone. The hotel was razed in July 1957.

The center building to the east had four bays in the second and third stories, while the eastern-most building had three bays, all with one-over-one windows in rectangular frames. The ground floor was a single storefront with angled windows and transoms above, with a door in the first bay of the center building, and a second entrance in the first bay of the eastern-most building. The neon hotel sign extended from the south façade just above the first floor window.

The hotel rooms (again based on the 1938 photos) had wallpaper and radiator heat. Each room had a bed and other furniture. The lobby contained the central wood reception desk, mailboxes for guests, and four chairs for visitors (usually people who came to see Thomas Smith). In addition to the lobby, the ground floor contained a restaurant and bar that served guests.

Detailed History

Thomas R. Smith (1871-1938) was a noted businessman and hotelier, who was born in Sunderland, Calvert County, Maryland and moved to Baltimore City with his mother and siblings around 1880. He opened Smith’s Hotel on Druid Hill Avenue in circa 1912 and grew in prominence as a businessman. This in turn attracted Democratic politicians who made him the head of Baltimore's Negro Democratic Club because African Americans could vote in Maryland (although it was not an unchallenged right). He married Jessie Wilson (1883-1933) in 1909 and they lived in a row house on Druid Hill Avenue. Smith died in 1938 and his brother Wallace inherited the Smith Hotel.

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