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Hooper House – as it is known today – is a landmark place-making project and architectural treasure located in the Old Goucher neighborhood of Baltimore, MD. The property looms large in Baltimore’s history, and the building itself holds many tales, and even some secrets. The property is a sprawling embodiment of time, shape-shifting from its original usage as a single-family home to a home for the Red Cross, a (rumored) insane asylum to the long-time home of Morphius Records (notably producing albums by Beach House, Wye Oak, Future Islands and the Pixies), to its current iteration as a home for artists and culture-makers in the Charm City. 

Originally called the James E. Hooper House, this sprawling Queen Anne -style mansion with steeply pitched roofs and somber masonry was built in 1886 for its namesake, a well-known 19th-century shipping magnate. ​At the time of construction, Mr. Hooper was president of William E. Hooper & Sons – a cotton mill located along nearby Jones Falls that produced the duck canvas used for sails. Founded by his father, Hooper’s mill was regarded as the largest of its kind in Baltimore. It’s been said that Mr. Hooper would spend long hours alone in the 5th-story cupola of his home, gazing at the sea and watching ships come to port. 


The structure itself can be recognized by its architecture: as a freestanding masonry dwelling executed in the Queen Anne style, Hooper House embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type and method of construction not commonly found in inner-city Baltimore (where the rowhouse is the dominant type of domestic architecture). The building contains distinctive features – most of which remain intact – like irregularity of floor plan and small-scale classical decorative detailing, steeply-pitched roofs, and the use of somber colored masonry exterior materials (here red brick with dark colored rock faced stone trim).​

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. In 2001, the building was purchased by Morphius Development Consortium, who returned the exterior wood trim to its original green color and restored other various interior features. In 2018 James Hooper LLC was formed by Matt Oppenheim, the principal MO/DE, who purchased the property with the goal of restoration and re-envisioning this historic site as a cultural hub and a place for Baltimore’s small businesses to thrive and call their home.


The James E. Hooper House in the early 1900s.


Names scribbled on original wallpaper, revealed in a 2022 fire.

Photo by Breck Chapman of HH from 2004.jpeg

Hooper House in the 1990s.

In 2022, tragedy struck when a devastating fire consumed the top cupola and caused significant water damage to the property. An ambitious revitalization project began in early 2023. This comprehensive redevelopment endeavor will transform the Hooper House into a vibrant hub featuring 15 innovative studio and maker spaces, as well as a ground-floor food and beverage experience. A landscaped outdoor area reminiscent of a picturesque park, complete with a greenhouse, will be on the exterior. 


The overarching objective of this venture is to provide a nurturing environment where creatives can flourish alongside small businesses, drawing inspiration from the ebb and flow of daily life in a beautiful modernized historic setting. With diligence and dedication, the project is expected to reach its fruition in the second quarter of 2024.

Today, Hooper House is a monumental space-making project and collaboration. Originally the sprawling home of shipping magnate James E. Hooper, the property has been reimagined as a cultural hub for local artists and entrepreneurs, as well as a community gathering place within the historic neighborhood of Old Goucher in Baltimore, MD. 

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