Sunday, November 20, 2011

W.H. Smyth-J.C. Penney Block

Deciding what to call a building is a bit of a problem, but I've christened this the W.H. Smyth-J.C. Penney building in honor of the man who built it, William H. Smyth, and what probably is its best remembered tenant, J.C. Penney. None of this should be taken as a slight to David Blong and Blong Chiropractic, current owner and principal tenant.

The fact the facade originally was identical to the Jay J. Smyth block adjoining on the west (an remains identical except for window treatments) is explained by the fact both buildings were built in the aftermath of a December 1905 blaze that destroyed much of the west half of the north side of the square. The builders were brothers. The probable designer was O.A. Hougland.

The post card view above, which dates from 1907-1910, shows how the Smyth blocks looked originally. Both had rather plain awninged fronts lighted by prism glass, although some of that seems to have been blocked here. The major difference was that the W.H. Smyth block never had been divided into two storefronts --- until the current arrangement.

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