Monday, September 26, 2011

Northwest Corner: Union Block

Anna Beem, donor/Lucas County Historical Society collection

Nonextant: Formerly 201, 203 and 205 North Main Street

The Union Block, so-called because it was a joint project of Chariton's Masonic and I.O.O.F. lodges, was when built a rival in grandeur to othe Mallory Opera Block, then located immediately south across Braden Avenue at the north end of the square's west side. Its architect probably was O.A. Hougland, then affiliated with the Chariton firm of Thorpe & Sons.

Although harmoniously united by its exterior, the structure had three owners. The south third of the block, on the corner of North Main and Braden and stretching west along Braden, was owned by the Masons. First National Bank occupied the first floor, with its principal entrance on the corner. Offices filled the second floor and the Masonic Lodge rooms occupied a long, narrow suite of high-ceilinged rooms at the top of the building. Second-floor tenants and the Masons reached their rooms via a staircase entered from Braden Avenue.

The Odd Fellows owned the middle third of the block from top to bottom. A commercial tenant occupied the first floor and offices, the second. The partnership of G.W. Larimer and J.O. Brown owned the first two floors of the north third of the building, offering merchandise on both floors. The entire third floor the north two-thirds of the block, facing North Main, housed the I.O.O.F. lodge rooms. Second-floor tenants and lodge members used a stair that exited onto the street between the two commerical storefronts. Businesses also were located in the basements of the entire block.

Here are a few news articles that follow the progress of the block from March 1881, when plans were unveiled, until March 1882, when it was fully occupied.
MARCH 1881
The Chariton Patriot, 6 March 1881: The architectural design for the Masonic and Odd Fellows' building were on exhibition at Thorpe & Sons' office this week. The building looks magnificent on paper, and forcibly reminds us of that beautiful mansion which we have leased in the New Jerusalem for the sweet bye and bye, not made with human hands but eternal, etc.

The Chariton Patriot, 15 Dcember 1881: The window lights are all in place in the new Union Block, and the work of plastering is progressing. The weather is holding out very well for the work and in a very short time we can expect to see the entire building occupied. It is a handsome structure, and as substantial as it is handsome.

The Chariton Patriot, 23 February 1882: Next week the First National Bank will move into their new quarters in the Union Block. The old bank rooms already look quite dingy in comparison with the new.

MARCH 1882
The Chariton Patriot, 9 March 1882: The new Union Block is now fully occupied, except the basement under the Bank. On the second floor we find Baker Bros., Attorneys and Real Estate agents, nicely located in the front suite of rooms over the Bank, while Dr. Perry is occupying the rooms first to the right of the south stairway, with his Dental Establishment. On the second floor of the Odd Fellows building, we find B.B. Tinkham, general agent of the McCormick Reaper, occupying the first rooms, and Col Bartholomew's law offices, in the rear rooms. The second floor of Larimer & Brown's building is filled up with agricultural implements of all kinds, such as the firm handle. The third floor of the block is occupied by the Odd Fellows and Masons, for Lodge Rooms. On the first floor we find the First National Bank, A.N. Wright, jeweler; T.N. Bray, boots and shoes, and Larimer & Brown.

Anna Beem, donor/Lucas County Historical Society collection

This is an interior view of First National Bank in its Union Block location. The men are identified (from left) as Frank Crocker, Willard Beem, Bert Beem and Clarence Blake.

Lucas County Historical Society collection

This is how the Union Block appeared not long before its demolition during the 1970s. Except for the fact its brick had been painted red and the bank had been expanded to include the middle storefront on its east facade, the building was virtually unchanged. An annex also had been attached to the west end of the building.

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