A Beaux Arts Building: To Hell and Back

The building depicted in the following photos has undergone many changes since 1907 when it was constructed as a bank and fraternal lodge.  The first photo, a black and white image, shows the building when new.  Stylistically, the masonry building shows a strong Beaux Arts influence despite its lack of exact symmetry.  In form, the building is something of a holdout from the Victorian era; it features a “cut” corner with a tower-like projection above the roof – quite fashionable in the last quarter of the 19th century.  Beaux Arts characteristics include light-hued masonry walls (yellow brick rather than the more conventional stone), Ionic columns, (implied) symmetry, rusticated stone (entry arch), swags, roof-line balustrade, round cartouches below the cornice and other robust surface ornamentation.  The pair of windows above the entry have upper sash with a large diamond pane in each; they have a distinctly Queen Anne feel about them and seem a bit out of place surrounded by so much classical detailing.

 

Time passes… just over a century.  The building has been both used and abused.  Modifications include the loss of the “tower”, cornice, rusticated entry and the replacement of windows with glass block and divided plate glass (second photo).

 

Recently, the building received a renovation (third photo below).  What had been a slightly eclectic building is now even more so!  Given the vast amount of damage the building had suffered, a full-scale restoration would obviously have been cost-prohibitive.  In such cases a more contemporary approach is sometimes called for.  Missing or damaged historic features have been recalled in modified form.  The end result, while not historically accurate, is a vast improvement over what it had been.  I applaud the owner’s decision to utilize an empty  neglected historic building.  It is now a functioning asset to its community rather than the blighted shell it had become.

 

The building as it appeared when new in 1907.

 

This is how the building looked roughly a century later… gone to hell.  Stripped of its tower, original windows, cornice, and rusticated entry the building looked war-torn.

 

This is how the building appears today after a recent renovation.  New work has been painted to match original detailing.  

 

 

 

 

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