West King Street 25-55


25, 31 – This building is the home of the Hager Brothers Department Store and is labeled as such on the 1912 and the 1929 maps. It was constructed between 1891 and 1912. On the 1891 map, another large building with a similar—but not identical–footprint is labeled simply as a “dry goods store”. The post-1891 replacement building is labeled on the 1929 map as a “steel frame building of ordinary construction” and would date from at least 1912. This building is five stories tall and extends the depth of the block all the way to W. Grant St. This building stands today with a mostly unaltered King St. façade (one of only two buildings on the block today that stood before 1929) and houses several businesses on the lower stories, collectively named The Shops at Hager.

~ Hager Building:

This building dates from circa 1910 and demonstrates how far C. Emlen Urban had come from his earlier, late 19th century designs (for example, his circa 1895 Jennie Potts’s Building). The Hager building is a classic early 20th century commercial building designed in the Beaux Arts style. Similar to the W.W. Griest building and other urban American commercial buildings including those designed by Louis Sullivan, the Hager building articulates on its façade the various functions of its different levels. For example, the first storey is exaggerated, open (glass walls), and inviting for consumers. This is where the main, public level of a commercial enterprise would be located. The second through fourth stories are articulated as office space—the kind of places mid-level managers might toil away on a 9 to 5 shift. Finally, the “head” of the building—the fifth floor—could be the location of an auditorium, a restaurant, storage, executive offices, etc. In general, this building shares a similar composition as the human body with a foot, a torso, and a head.

The formality of the building is expressed through its symmetry, stone construction (over a steel frame), its Beaux Arts detailing (evocative of the grandest building of Europe, particularly Paris), and its overall classicism, which is suggestive of commerce, enterprise, and stability. These are essential concepts that the building communicates. Nevertheless, the Hager building is very much a “decorated shed.”

33, 35, 37 – In 1929, this building was the Hotel St. George. In 1912, it was the Hotel Realty. On the 1891 and 1886 maps, it is labeled, along with 39 West King St. as the “Cooper House”. Between 1891 and 1912, the building had an addition to its rear. It is four stories high. It no longer stands today; in its place, there is now a parking lot.

39 – In 1886 and 1891, this three-storey building appears to be an auxiliary building to the Cooper House the existed next door during this time period. It appears that a new building was constructed on this lot between 1891 and 1912. In 1912 and 1929, it does not appear to be affiliated with the subsequent hotels that occupied 33 to 37 W. King St. Between 1912 and 1929, the newer building appears to have gained a rear addition. This building no longer stands today. The lot it stood in is now used as a parking lot.

41 – The 1886 map shows a three storey building at this location. On the 1891 map, the same building is labeled as “crockery”—a place that would specialize in the sale of dishware and china. Between 1891 and 1912 the building underwent a rear addition. A larger building was built on the lot between 1912 and 1929 that was three stories high. This building is labeled as a furniture store on the 1929 map.

43, 45, 47, 49 – This building is one of two on this block that currently stands today and was built between 1891 and 1912 to replace an earlier structure.  Its first floor is currently occupied by Jason’s Clothing and Menswear. On the 1886 map, a tobacco shop and a photo studio occupied an earlier structure on the lot.

~ Jennie Potts’s Store: This c.1895 C. Emlen Urban building has an overall eclecticism that makes it, in a way, slightly less formal than a full-on Beaux Arts building but not entirely picturesque. This is probably indicative of the era in which it was designed and constructed: classical revivalism post-Columbian Exposition hadn’t entirely caught on, but the picturesque medievalism of the Victorian era was definitely waning. Notably, this building carries some Renaissance flavor, particularly in the cornice design, the window capitals, and in the small “porthole” windows. Like many buildings, it is decidedly a “decorated shed”—albeit one with detailing that is not particularly easy to define. Perhaps, this building—in a historical architectural context—could best be described as transitional.

51 – This building is the Hotel Manhattan on the 1929 map. It is three stories high and is conjoined with an “auto repairing” shop to its rear. On the 1886, 1891, and 1912 maps, this building was instead labeled the Sorrel Horse Hotel. Adjacent to the rear of the 45 and 43 W. King Street was a hitching shed. On the 1929 map, this shed has become an automobile garage.

53, 55 – These buildings on the 1929 and 1912 map were side-by-side twin buildings and each was 2 ½ stories high. On the 1886 and 1891 maps, a different building with a different footprint occupies this lot.  It was labeled as a “barber [shop]”. These buildings are no longer standing. Currently, a one storey, late-twentieth century building occupies this lot, which houses a dollar store, along with an Art Deco building that houses A&W Jewelry.

Post-1929 buildings on the west end of the block:

~ A&W Jewelry: This is a very interesting and bizarre little building. Immediately, it appears to be Art Deco. This is because of the “stepped” (3 “levels”) wall surrounding the corner entrance (if you look closely, you can see it) and its façade, which is covered in large (possibly ceramic) tiles. It is a “decorated shed”, but not a particularly decorated one at that. However, the color scheme is eye-catching but not particularly “beautiful”. If anything, this building is modern in construction and style. It was conceived as—and almost certainly always has been—a commercial building.

~ 99¢ Store: This mid-to-late 20th century building is the simplest and most generic expression of modern commercial architecture. In a way, it is a building without architecture or Venustas. It is wholly focused on its Utilitas; it is a building that houses a commercial enterprise and exists solely to further the enterprise at the lowest cost possible for the greatest net benefit to the enterprise.


One Response to “West King Street 25-55”

  1. jhausladen Says:

    Reblogged this on Artistry and Architecture.

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