Facades (p2)

Very few tourists venture up to the north end of 5th Street. If they did, they would find sitting atop a slight hill a collection of old buildings housing a used book store, art gallery, and a few apartments. And if they looked up above their heads they would find a rather beautiful restoration of one of those old buildings: the Reding Building. Its original tenants unclear, it has since been divided up into apartments. While the retail space has been permanently covered, the upper facade still clings to its original glory.

Each of the upper floors large window openings are capped by an elaborate collection of arches, tiles, and stepped blocks. As with most buildings of its time, natural light was a valuable commodity, thus the very large arched windows to let that light in. In such a cold climate as ours however, those windows were quickly replaced with smaller and more efficient modern types. How dark and dingy those rooms now must feel. View the Big Picture.

Here’s a closer look at the tiles laid around the arched window openings. This floral type of pattern can be seen on almost every building up and down 5th street. I’m assuming these tiles are terra cotta, plaster embellishments made from a mold and attached to the buildings brick facade. They are the kind of thing you at first don’t notice, but when you realize their existence you can’t believe you ever missed them.

Standing between the two large arched windows is this vertical stripe of more flora-lish prints. This type of embellishment is seen more extensively (perhaps too extensively) on the Calumet Floral Building further up the road.

I’m not sure if the colors are original, but the vibrant cornice work of this building is what stands out the most. A cornice were traditionally made from tin, but this one looks like it could be wood. I wonder if that ball at the top is original. To think that it survived a century up there seems insane. The entire thing looks like it was installed yesterday. Excellent work.

All that remains of the first floor facade is this run along the top of the storefront windows. Now instead of floor to ceiling windows here we get wood walls – most likely added when the lower floor was converted to apartments. (who wants an apartment with one complete wall of windows?)

This is one of my favorite facades along the entire length of 5th street. Its a pity that so few people take time up at this end. But now we must move on…

Monday: The Vertin Building at 400 5th Street…

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  1. Quick glances along 5th street don’t do this architecture justice. You really have to stand and take a good look, then even the derelict buildings betray some of their more ornate details. The curve bricks like you notice is just one example. They sure seem to take more time to get the details right in these old buildings that’s for sure.

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