History of The Hoen Lithograph Building
The Stones Speak
Oldest Continuously Operating Lithographer
Hoen & Company, established in Baltimore in 1835, was the oldest continuously operating lithographer in the United States. The Hoen & Co. Complex, constructed from 1885 to 1963, is the only site that survives to represent the company’s long and illustrious history. The earliest buildings in the complex were constructed for the Baxter Electric Co., which manufactured motors for street railways. From 1898-1902, the Bagby Furniture Company occupied the site until Hoen & Co. relocated to the building after their downtown headquarters was destroyed in a fire. Hoen & Co. occupied the property from 1902 to 1981, when the firm declared bankruptcy.
Innovative Print Processes & Mapping Conventions
Ernest Weber and his cousin August Hoen brought the Senefelder lithographic process, invented in Germany in the late 18th century, to Baltimore. This process allowed artists to draw directly on lithographic stone from which prints could be made, eliminating the need for time-consuming engraving. A. Hoen & Co. specialized in high-quality, sophisticated work that elevated the technique and art of lithographic printing. August Hoen, who took control of the firm after Weber’s death in 1849, patented the lithocaustic process resolving images into light and dark squares—the forerunner to half-tone printing. Hoen also developed topographical color patterning and map conventions still used by the U.S. Geological Survey. On a commercial level, the company produced labels for cans and for tobacco, opening a secondary plant for this work in Richmond in 1879.
Influential Maps & Scientific Illustration