924 N. Charles Building
From Residence to Retail to Restaurant

Residence: 1850s

Benjamin Chew Howard (four term Congressman and son of John Eager Howard) and his wife Janet Gilmore, built and resided in the mansion now addressed at 924 N. Charles Street, which was a parcel of his father’s Belvedere estate.

Residence: 1860s – 1890s

Charles Morton Stewart (Brazilian coffee importer) and his wife, Josephine Lurman, purchased the building as their winter residence, raising 14 children between the mansion and their summer home in Greenspring Valley, Maryland.

Residence: 1890s – 1920s

George Wroth Knapp, Jr.a local merchant, purchased and used the mansion as his second home during his Baltimore work weeks. He and his wife, Sara Gilfry invested $100,000 ($2.5 million today) on decorative fineries such as crystal (Waterford), marble (Rinehart), teak (de Forest) and stained glass (Tiffany). Learn more here and here.

Retail: 1930s – 1970s

Potthast Brothers Furniture purchased the building for retail purposes. They reconfigured the first floor that fronts N. Charles Street with stairs leading from the front salon down to a lower level to serve as a furniture showcase to attract passersby.

Restaurant: 1970s

William (Billy) Paley, Jr., the son of William S. Paley who grew CBS from a small radio network into one of the foremost radio and television network operations in the nation, led a group of investors to purchase and repurpose the mansion into a new restaurant that they called The Brass Elephant after such namesakes. More on Paley here.

Restaurant: 1980s – 2009

Thank goodness Randy Stahl and Jack Elsby bought the building at auction, established and grew The Brass Elephant restaurant into one of Baltimore’s premier dining establishments for almost three decades.

Restaurant: 2015 – 2016

Linda and Steven Rivelis purchased the mansion at 924 N. Charles Street in January, 2015. Once the building was stabilized, new HVAC, electric, plumbing, and all new kitchen equipment was injected. They approached lighting, furnishing and layout with a streamlined design for guests’ easier absorption of the historic building’s unique decorative features.
Read more here:
• A look at the old Brass Elephant as it gets a modern makeover
• Elephant Dreams
• Elephant Chef and GM dish to the Baltimore Business Journal
• Digging into design

Restaurant: 2016

The Elephant opens! Together – General Manager, Mallory Staley; Executive Chef, Andy Thomas; and Co-Proprietors, Linda Brown Rivelis and Steven Rivelis and The Elephant team are grateful to those who lived, slept, relaxed, played, worked, served and dined within these walls. We are humbled to carry forward their stewardship of loving care with this promise to …

…deliver spectacular experiences that delight you our guest –
and in turn –
ourselves and all others who come in contact with The Elephant.”

Share your story

So many people have been brimming with stories about special occasions having occurred at the former Brass Elephant. Maybe you have a story about Potthast Brothers Furniture or are related to the mansion’s former workers, residents, etc. We’d like to learn of your history here for possible posting on our online pages. To share your story, photos - please click here. Thank you so much.