Copycat Building

wham city

The Copycat Building is a Baltimore landmark containing artists’ live/work/paint spaces. The building was originally occupied in 1905 by the Crown Cork & Seal Company (originators of the modern bottle cap).

It is home to many young artists, musicians, filmmakers, and professionals looking for a large space to live, create, study, and live in the city. The cost of rent is 50 cents per square foot. The building is used for the set of the talk show, ‘It’s a Remarckable Time Who Cares.’

Charles Lankford bought the 165,000-square-foot brick building in 1983. It is named after after a billboard for the Copy Cat printing company that stood on its roof for years. At the time, it housed a variety of light-industrial tenants. ‘After a while we decided, as an experiment, to take one floor and convert it into artist studios, since we were so close to Maryland Institute College of Art,’ Lankford says. ‘Over time, everybody started ‘cheating’–instead of renting an apartment and a studio, they would save money by living in their studios.’

Lankford, who owns several buildings, says he has ‘never hidden’ from the city that artists have been working and living in his buildings. But he has had run-ins with various cities agencies over its legality. He launched his own campaign to change the area’s zoning from industrial to residential three years ago–only to be told that such a move was illegal. ‘There was no mechanism to allow this type of change,’ Lankford says. ‘You couldn’t go from industrial to residential.’

The Copycat was also home to The Wham City Art’s Collective, former home to Baltimore artist Dan Deacon, Blood Baby, Santa Dads, Videohipos, Ed Schrader, Jimmy Joe Roche, and others. In addition to hosting local and touring acts Wham City hosted live stage performances, including of their interpretation of Beauty And The Beast, and held the first ‘Whartscape Festival’ in the building in 2006. Bands that have played the warehouse include: Grimes, Lightning Bolt, Japanther, Gravenhurst, Matt + Kim, and Dan Deacon.

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