Sometimes I think about site visits in the same vein as college tours: the first impression is incredibly important and sometimes something minor that you remember ends up clouding your entire memory of the place. I still remember going on college tours with my parents (um… 12 years ago now… jeez!) and one that sticks out is a college I didn’t even end up sending in an application, mostly because of the campus tour. It was Brown University – on paper that school seemed like a perfect fit for me (or at least 16-17 year old me). I still remember that our campus tour guide was barefoot. BAREFOOT. And just generally more of a…. hippie than I ever will be. The barefoot thing (through downtown Providence!) coupled with the personality of the tour guide basically turned me off to Brown. I’m sure it was and still is a great school, but I knew then and there that I would never fit in.
But as the great Sophia Petrillo says, “But I digress.”
So fast forward twelve years and instead of campus tours, I go on a lot of venue tours and site visits. First impressions are just important. So when I toured a venue in Baltimore recently and the first staff member of the property didn’t seem to know anything about said property… well it makes a bad first impression.
I’m a fan of historic properties – I was a history and museum studies major, so I like museums and old houses. So I was excited to see a property in Baltimore called the 1840s Ballroom. Naturally, I assumed that the building dated back to the 1840s.
Upon entering the first floor of the space, one of the other planners on the tour asked the man giving the tour (who I assumed worked there) how old the building was and he said – oh it’s about 100 years old or so. Okay, so not 1840s but still old.
Well a little later on in the tour we met the sales manager and she informed us that the building dates back to 1996. Wait, what!? Not only did the first guy not have a clue, but now this building that’s the same age as my niece who just graduated high school is masquerading as a historic property.
Well it turns out the facade dates back to the 1840s. The facade was on another building in another part of Baltimore and somehow ended up in storage, when the building was put up in the 1990s (it was originally meant to be a museum) the facade was attached, giving a historic feel to an otherwise modern building.
Aside from the clueless staff member and the historic bait-and-switch, I wasn’t necessarily a big fan of the space.
The first floor is the Cabaret – a space with a Latin flair due to its past life as a Latin restaurant. It accommodates 110 seated or 230 standing.
The second floor is the most… interesting. It’s called the City Lites floor and if you know the space used to be a museum it makes a bit more sense. There are museum-like vignettes around the space. The centerpiece is the White Tower Diner, a vintage ice cream counter that was brought in when the museum opened. Capacity for the floor is 150 seated or 230 standing.
The fourth floor (the third floor is not available to rent) is the actual ballroom. I think this is the nicest space. It’s fairly open with some nice (if dated) historical-ish details. The windows offer a nice view of Baltimore, and there is a large dance floor. Capacity is 230 seated or 350 standing.
There is also a small courtyard that can be rented in conjunction with another space for wedding ceremonies or cocktail receptions.
There is also a bed and breakfast next door (which I didn’t get to see), which they sell with wedding packages since there is no where to get ready in the space.
I’m not a huge fan of the space but it might work for your event. For more information, visit their website.