Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stanton-Johansen Building

It is difficult to prove too much about the origin of a very old building because time results in many changes, but this is what I think to be an accurate general history of the building that now houses Johansen Plumbing & Heating on the west side of Chariton’s square, 111 North Main St. (a portion of Lot 5, Block 10, Original Plat of Chariton; Robert Johansen, owner).

The building is important because of its Richardson Romanesque facade, which although newer blends seamlessly into the facade of the 1901 Ensley-Crocker Block to the north to form a highly significant unit; its relatively unaltered turn-of-the-20th century state, including original floors, pressed-metal ceilings and prism glass; and the fact that its core is second oldest building on the square, the second brick commercial building built in the city.

The first known structure on the site was a wood frame structure owned by T.A. Matson that housed his harness and saddle business, probably constructed during the 1850s.

During February of 1867, a fire started in the Matson building that went on to destroy all six buildings then standing on the south half of the west side of the square. Matson’s loss was estimated at $8,000, $5,000 of it insured (No Chariton newspapers exist for this early date, but the fire was reported upon in The Burlington Daily Hawkeye of Feb. 21, 1867, giving The Chariton Patriot as the source.)

Matson began almost immediately after the fire to construct a two-story brick building, the second brick building on the square (the east-side O.A. Palmer Building was the first). The Chariton Democrat reported on Jan. 2, 1868, that Matson was “comfortably fixed up in his new brick building on the west side.” This building forms the core of what now is known as the Stanton or Johansen Building.

When the following photo was taken during 1869, Matson was operating his harness business upstairs and Col. Charles W. Kittredge was operating a general merchandise store downstairs.

By late 1869, however, Matson had sold his building and it sold again during December of that year, this time to bankers --- as reported in The Democrat of Dec. 28, 1869: "Messrs. Lyman Cook & Co., bankers, have bought the property on the west side, known as the Matson Brick Building, and intend to occupy it as a banking house. The property is one of the most desirable on the square, and is admirably adapted to the purpose for which it is to be used. It was bought of Messrs. Gray, Clark & Co., of Chicago, the late owners, and the price paid was five thousand dollars, cash."

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