National studies (from the National Endowment from the Arts, Americans for the Arts, Art Place and the Mellon Foundation) demonstrate the positive effect that anchor arts institutions in the United States have on revitalizing communities.   With the proper leadership and investments, the Lord Baltimore Theater can deliver positive outcomes for residents and visitors alike, similar to the functioning Lord Baltimore Theater in the early to mid-1900s (pictured to the right). From 1913-1970 the Lord Baltimore Theater served as one of the largest movie houses in the United States with 1,000 seats. In 1970 it was converted to a church and has been vacant since 1973 when the congregation relocated.

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Project Overview

The current condition (photo below) of the Lord Baltimore Theater is a symbol of neglect and wasted potential that permeates all aspects of this section of West Baltimore Street. The Lord Baltimore Theater is a 14,000 square foot historic theater located at 1110 West Baltimore Street, located one block from the University of Maryland Biopark campus, one block from the redeveloped Hollins Market, and a few blocks away from the renovated Grace Medical Center and the West Baltimore Renaissance Foundation (born of the hospital acquisition) that has moved their headquarters to West Baltimore Street.

In 2019, through $1.5M in funds from the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development and the Baltimore Development Corporation, Southwest Partnership stabilized the property, including roof repair and interior demolition. With the assistance of TwoPoint Studios, we facilitated a series of charrettes to re-envision the property as a state-of-the-art educational, entertainment, and arts center with professional dance as its core program.

Community Engagement & Vision 

In 2019 and 2020, Southwest Partnership hosted a series of community meetings to capture the vision for the project. From those meetings, we developed a vision to create and operate a world class dance and movement center with the complete renovation of the Lord Baltimore Theater.  When completed the organization and facility with dynamic programming will serve as a cultural anchor that assists with the revitalization of its Southwest Baltimore neighborhood serving artists, citizens and visitors.  

This year through a grant by the Maryland State Arts Council, SWP will engage a fundraising consultant to help us realize this community vision.

The Building

The current building, which is 14,000 square feet, will be expanded to 30,000 square feet, while retaining the historic features of the theater. Total estimated costs to build out this vision is $14M. In addition to the $1M+ awarded by the State of Maryland, Baltimore Development Corporation, Maryland State Arts Council, and friends of Southwest Partnership have made investments to this project.

The first floor will hold a black box (seating capacity of 250), cafe, dance studio, art gallery, and educational space. A second floor will be added to provide additional studios for classes and rehearsals, with a third floor being office space for the managing organization.

The Baltimore dance community is rich with talented choreographers, performers, companies, and instructors, however, our city is lacking a dance center to house these artists. 

The Lord Baltimore Theater Project, under the umbrella of Southwest Partnership, will serve the Baltimore community and the field of dance locally, regionally and nationally with the creation and operation of a world class theater, studios and classrooms used for innovative programming that will serve people of all ages, races, and social-economic backgrounds.  The Lord Baltimore Theater will become a state-of-the-art facility for dance and ancillary arts that provides a home for professional artists, students and audiences with training and performances as well as serving as an incubator for the creation of new works.

Rendering of the future Lord Baltimore Theater created by Two Point Architecture studio.

Next Steps

SWP is establishing construction documents to get more accurate costs for the project. As soon as we have accurate construction numbers and as-builts, SWP will launch a capital campaign. SWP has received funds from the State of Maryland to hire a fundraising consultant to determine feasibility and guide this process. Once we get to this phase, we will post the Request for Proposals here.

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