Sign of the Times

Summer 2018

Stieff Silver

Johns Hopkins University has purchased Baltimore’s historic Stieff Silver complex, making a highly visible symbol of the city’s manufacturing heritage a part of its future in the knowledge economy.

The two-building, 1.2-acre former silver factory complex, where the university has leased space since 2002, will continue to house Johns Hopkins engineering tenants and offer swing space for Whiting School offices and departments whose Homewood campus quarters are undergoing renovations.

Baltimore residents know the complex for its large, highly visible, and brightly lit “Stieff Silver” sign atop the two-story building, built in two stages in 1925 and 1929. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2000, the 35,000-square-foot “old” building now houses some non-university tenants and vacant space. Whiting School labs and research facilities currently occupy much of the 49,000-square-foot 1971 “new” building.

Though planning for new uses continues, in the short term, the school will move more research to the Stieff Silver site as well as provide additional space for academic support groups.

The Stieff complex is a visible reminder of Baltimore’s once nationally important silversmith industry, dating back as far as 1815 and including several prominent companies. Founded in 1904 when Charles C. Stieff bought out his partner in a predecessor firm, Stieff Silver started in downtown before moving to the site just above Falls Road about two decades later.