Friday, September 16, 2016

Facade renewal at The Office

This post picks up and carries forward a continuing report on some of the remarkable changes that have resulted under the Facade Improvement Program, now complete with the exception of a few details, in the Chariton Courthouse Square Historic District. You'll find reports on the restored Laing Building here, the Chariton Vision Center building here and the Matson-Stanton-Johansen Building here.

It's hard to miss Darrell Riggs' venerable The Office, "established for the purpose of a good time" back in 1985. Sharp new suspended signage greets guests and passers-by and the familiar gold and black signage  has been returned to pride of place atop the entirely rebuilt street-level facade, too.

The Office occupies the north half of a double-front building constructed during 1883 and known originally as the Exchange Block. You can see the block in the center of this vintage postcard view. The block lost many of the elements that made it architecturally distinctive when it was "modernized" during the latter half of the 20th century. The block's elaborate cast iron cornice was removed and the huge second-floor window openings were bricked up so that smaller replacements could be installed.

Here's how the block looked during 2011 before restoration of The Office facade. It needs to be pointed out that Adcock Real Estate no longer owns or occupies the south half of the block and, indeed, that part of the block has fallen into a critical state of disrepair under later ownership.

Renewal at The Office focused primarily on the street-level facade, entirely rebuilt in a form more sympathetic to the structure's original design. Upper-level brickwork and stonework were repaired and repointed, however, awnings taken down and new windows installed. Here's how The Office looks now, in tandem with the also restored Matson-Stanton-Johansen Building just to the north.

The Exchange Block, brick above a stone foundation, was constructed during 1883 to replace two of five frame buildings destroyed in a December, 1882, fire that consumed the south end of the west side of the square. It was the most elaborately detailed building on the square when complete and the sheets of plate glass used in its storefronts, 8x12 feet, were the largest that had been imported into Chariton at that time.

The builders were Daniel Eikenberry & Co. and the partnership of Kull & Yengle. The first commercial occupants were a general merchandise store known as “The Boom” in the now-endangered south half and a clothing store that was the first retail operation in Chariton of Simon Oppenheimer, who would go on to become a business legend in the city, in the building that now houses The Office. Pioneer physicians T.P. and J.E. Stanton were among the first occupants of second-floor professional offices.

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