Building Blocks (110 West North Ave, Baltimore)


I doubt if any of you remember the 45 bed St Luke’s Hospital on the 100 block of West North Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland.  That’s because this general hospital was located there from 1906 – 1914; built in the ruble of the Great Baltimore Fire of Sunday, February 7, and Monday, February 8, 1904.  How about the Shall-Crouch Motor Company?


Shall-Crouch Motor Company @1930(Baltimore City Life Museum Collection Maryland Historical Society MC7177)

Shall-Crouch Motor Company @1930(Baltimore City Life Museum Collection
Maryland Historical Society MC7177)

In July, 1915 it was announced that the Shall-Crouch Motor Company would spend $20,000 on alterations and erect an addition to the former St. Luke’s Hospital (110 West North Avenue).

The adjacent row houses, however, are still present, albeit slightly altered.

I cannot locate a photograph of the Shall-Crouch Motor Company building being turn down and made into the current ‘U’ shaped courtyard structure the North Avenue Motel occupied when it opened in late 1959/early 1960. (Google street view of the North Avenue Motel)

NAMFor a short period the early 1970s I worked part-time at the North Avenue Motel as the night reception clerk.  The area was seedy, and the office door was locked at sundown.  Many of the rooms were paid for ‘one night’ and used for about an hour.  A taxi or car with a male customer and female ‘working woman’ would drive into the center court parking area, and the male would pay cash at the office window for a room.  An hour later the room was available once again.

Some of working women lived at the motel; as they could not secure an apartment because they had no ‘reportable’ income.  Thus, they paid the monthly motel room rate that was far and above the average monthly rent for a cheap apartment. Those rooms were normally not used as a ‘place of nighttime employment.’  During the day some of the women had second jobs.  While they were at their legitimate places of employment or sleeping, a group of pimps would sometimes gather at the far end of the courtyard and talk business to pass the time of day.  Yes, the pimps also sold/did drugs; however, not in plain sight.  At night, the very territorial pimps would make their rounds to keep an eye on business.  Thus, periodically they would show up at the motel to check on their women, and to make sure that ‘non-North Avenue Motel women’ were not using not the motel.

Early one morning a housekeeper called the office from a room to report that there was a baby on the bed.  Sure enough the infant, probably less than six months old, was sleeping peacefully in the center of the bed. There were no other people noticeable in the area of the room.  I told the housekeeper to call the police, and I stood at the door keeping an eye on the baby.  When the police arrived they called social services; and social services came and took the baby to a hospital.  About an hour later a working woman arrived at the motel and discovered that her pimp, who was supposed to be watching her baby, had gone off to buy dope.  I have no idea if the woman was able to get her baby back from where social services had placed the infant.

In a 2007 episode of The Wire, Omar shot Brother Mouzone at the North Avenue Motel.  The motel also had a cameo in an episode of the Netflix series House of Cards.

I do not know when the North Avenue Motel closed, and was replaced by the current Motel 6.


In the past 111 years this small slice of West North Avenue has had a striking metamorphous.  To locate action there, one must do enough research to make it plausible to the reader.  Thankfully we now have Google.

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.