Friday, December 02, 2011

Around the Square: Part 2

This continues a series begun Wednesday, using photographs taken for Chariton's Main Street application to move around the square looking at memorable or historically and architecturally significant "amenities." I'll finish the series up on Saturday.

10. Ritz and Retheford buildings (top). If the south side of Chariton's square looks a little raggedy that's because major fires in 1930 and in the 1960s destroyed much of it. Holes in the square created by earlier fires were filled quickly with buildings of comparable presence. It was too late for that, however, when the southside fires occurred. These two buildings are exceptions. The Ritz, where Lucas Countyans of both my parents' and my generation went to the movies, probably is a 1920's structure rebuilt after the 1930 fire, but the Retheford building next to it was new construction after that fire. The Ritz facade has been conserved, but fronts one of Iowa's best bicycle shops now (the new theater is north of the square) and the Retheford building houses a computer shop rather than a drug store, as it once did.

11. Ford Garage building. This quarter block a half block south of the southwest corner of the square always has been associated with transportation. From the earliest days of the city, livery stables were located here. Prior to 1920, this low-slung building designed to house an automobile dealership and other businesses was constructed on the livery stable site. It still houses the Ford dealership.

12. American Legion Hall. Chariton architect William Perkins designed this building for Carl Caviness Post No. 102, American Legion, at the intersection of South Main Street and Linden Avenue during the 1920s and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After World War II, a surplus Quonset hut was moved to Chariton and attached to the building's west side to serve as a Legion club. The Quonset was meticulously restored during 2009/2010 by Legionnaires; restoration of the main building, which remains sound, is pending.

13. Chariton City Hall, also designed by William Perkins and also on the National Register, was built during 1933 on the traditional site of city government and fire department headquarters. It is one of Perkins' finest buildings. When built, the area south of the front door housed fire trucks and was fronted by a huge overhead door. When a fire department extension was attached later to the south side of the building, the door was infilled in a manner attuned to the rest of the building and city offices and council chambers now are located in the space behind.

14. The Brown Block. Constructed in 1917, this double-front building is sometimes overlooked because of its location just south of the square's southwest corner, facing South Main. But its brickwork is outstanding and tile flourishes at the cornice line make it the only building on or near the square with a touch of Spanish revival styling.

15. The Good Luck building. It would be a cheap shot to say this building hasn't had much of what it's named for lately, since it is deteriorating and badly needs a savior. The roof is the principal issue, I believe. It's called "Good Luck" because that is carved into stone above the big brick-outlined horseshoe on the facade, once fully glazed but now infilled. Built in 1883, you can still get an idea from filled openings of what it once was like. It's lost, among other things, an elaborate cast-metal cornice. The rambling enfilade of attached structures that moves downhill along Court Avenue for nearly half a block and culminates in what appears to be a miniature townhouse also is unique.

16. Stanton and Ensley-Crocker buildings. These adjoining stone Richardson Romanesque facades probably make the two buildings the most architecturally significant on the square. In both material and design, they mirror the 1893 Lucas County Courthouse, which they face. Ensley-Crocker was built new from the ground up during 1901. Although it seems to be part of a unit, the Stanton Building's stone facade seems to have been added to an existing brick building a couple of years later. Stanton still is occupied, but Ensley-Crocker was vacated within the last couple of years when True Value Hardware moved into a new building just west of the northwest corner of the square.

17. Penick Building. Although its facade has been removed, many windows blinded and multiple coats of paint applied, this three-story building remains significant to the square because it is the oldest structure on it, dating from ca. 1870. This building also is something of a hero because its height and sturdiness stopped the great January 1904 fire that destroyed everything north of it, including the landmark Mallory Opera Block. Had it not stopped the fire, consensus is most of the west side of the square would have burned.

No comments: