Thursday, September 20, 2012

More than skin deep

There are many amazing buildings just now beginning to awaken around Chariton's square, but the modest west-side Lockwood Building (in the center here with bay window above the "Bizzy's" sign) in some ways represents the epitome so far as attention detail is concerned. And thankfully, much of it has survived.

The Lockwood is one of four buildings at the north end of the west side of the square built during 1904 to fill the gaping hole left during January of that year when a huge fire destroyed the Mallory Opera Block, Dr. D.Q. Storie's narrow three-story brick next door to the south and the two-story frame building on this site that was the original home of George and Sarah Lockwood's jewelry store.

Look down while standing at the front door and you'll see that the original tiled pavement just outside, although a little dusty, is still there.

Step inside, and you'll find yourself inside a preservationist's dream --- an intact pressed metal interior. There's nothing else like this in Chariton, and not that many anywhere. It looks a little neglected now, but the building is in transition and we're hoping better days are ahead.

Now pressed metal ceilings are very common --- nearly every old commercial building has them, most hidden now under dropped ceilings. But the intact combination of walls and ceiling is remarkable. This treatment continues from front to rear of the building, where a grand oak stair rises to the second floor, but is not evident here because restrooms, storage areas and a dividing wall have been inserted.

We're able to appreciate this tin wonderland today because of the recent building owners who developed the Bizzy's business within it. The Lockwood Building continued to be a jewelry store long after the Lockwood family had vanished, but as the years passed the metal-clad walls were covered by paneling and the ceilings were lowered so that none of this was evident. All of that was stripped away as the space was adapted and the interior restored several years ago.

George and Sarah Lockwood constructed this building as not only a location for their business but also a home, so the upstairs apartment is as amazing as the ground-floor interior.

George Lockwood was a native of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, who came to Bloomfield with his parents and brother, James, as a child. He married Sarah J. Skidmore at Bloomfield during 1864 and they came to Chariton to open a jewelry business at this west-side location during the same year.

Sadly, the Lockwoods did not have many years left to enjoy their new building. Sarah died in the upstairs apartment four years after the building was completed, on Oct. 11, 1909. George's health failed after his wife's death and, forced to sell business and building, he moved to Peoria, Ill., to live with his only child, a son named J.E. Lockwood. George died in Peoria at age 71 on June 2, 1910.

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