Postcard of the Baltimore Catalog House, circa 1925.

Postcard of the Baltimore Catalog House, circa 1925. Public domain image.

Montgomery Ward

The city tried to purchase additional Carroll property, whenever it came on the market, to expand Carroll Park. However, not all of the former plantation ground was suitable. One tract, leased by the government for a WW I munitions factory, was deemed too polluted and inaccessible to add to Carroll Park. This 10-acre plot was sold to Chicago-based retailer Montgomery Ward for $115,000 in 1924. The company built a state-of-the-art Art Deco structure to serve as the seventh of the company’s nine mail-order warehouses. The Baltimore Catalog House, as it was known, handled orders for the entire eastern seaboard. Built of reinforced concrete, the 8-story structure was fireproof, representing a valuable innovation at that time. The sleek open floor plan and huge windows provided ventilation and natural light. There was also a retail store on the ground level fronting Monroe Street.


Opening week advertisement in the Baltimore Sun, August 2, 1925. Courtesy of University of Maryland, Baltimore County Library.

Segregated Sales Floor

African Americans were not permitted to shop in the store or work on the sales floor until the late 1950s. Even then, they could not use bathrooms, try on clothes in dressing rooms, eat at the café, patronize the beauty shop, or return clothes they might have worn. Those opportunities arrived in the early to mid-1960s.


Flyer from September 1944 shows clerical jobs, but not sales floor jobs available to African American women at Montgomery Ward. Courtesy of the AFRO American newspaper.


Of the 1,500 new jobs created by Montgomery Ward, they only planned to hire 25 African Americans to serve as truckers and elevator operators when they first opened in 1925. Courtesy of the AFRO American newspaper.

Renew and Reuse

Montgomery Ward closed the retail store and catalog center in 1985. Himmelrich Associates, Inc., a Baltimore-based real estate firm, worked with the city and state to clean up contaminants at the site, including asbestos, petroleum, PCBs, and lead paint. They installed a variety of green technologies including a 30,000-square-foot green roof. The office park opened in 2002 and has received national recognition for its innovative environmental solutions for the former industrial, commercial property.


The business park’s advertising boasts that it abuts the 125-acre Carroll Park with a golf course and jogging trail. Courtesy of Himmelrich Associates, Inc.