It was 1900 when – in the spirit of keeping up with the Jones’ (or in this particular case the Vertin Bros’) – the P. Ruppe and Son Department store on 5th street made significant improvements to their building, including the addition of a complete third floor. Times were good in the Copper Country, and there was enough prosperity to go around. With this addition the P. Ruppe and Son Store joined an exclusive club of super-sized department stores in Calumet, which included the massive 4-story Vertin Bros. store on Oak and the smaller yet equally impressive Glass Block Store further up 5th street. But none of those other stores could hold a candle to the architectural triumph that was the Ruppe Block (the building to the left in the photo) This is one beautiful building – my favorite in all of Calumet. Lets take a look at why.
Here’s the money shot – the front facade of the Ruppe Block. What makes this building stand out from all others are these large arched window openings complete with massive 2-story columns. (Check out the Big Picture for a better look) After the P. Ruppe and Son Department store closed its doors, JC Penny made a home here for many years. This is probably what kept the building in such good shape even today. While vacant today, it looks like it’s still being taken care of pretty well. Its a good thing too.
A closer look at those massive columns. These columns are almost whole, with only a small section shaved off of their backside allowing them to sit inside the set-back for the windows. Architecturally these are known as Colossal Columns and are associated with the Neo Classical style.
A close look at one of these column’s equally large capitals.
Above the columns sit large recessed arches in which the windows of the third floor sit. The inside surface of these arches are decorated with these flower blossoms, most likely terra cotta pieces painted red to match the sandstone/brick facade. Its amazing that these things haven’t fallen off yet, but I suppose they are rather well protected under this overhang.
Straddling both sides of the large three-arch window openings in the center of the facade stand these side windows. Plenty of interesting details here as well.
The trim around the window looks to be built from decorative pieces. The open joints look very similar to the joints seen on the 1st National Bank Building in Laurium. In fact I think they are the same thing, at least the same identical pattern. Go back and check it out for yourself here.
Below the third floor window sits this large piece of decoration. Looks like some repair work was done here, and maybe even some Pigeon poop.
Above the third floor are a series of large circular openings like this. I think these were originally windows, but over the years have been boarded up. Probably to slow down the heat escaping through the attic and these windows.
A parting shot of this awesome building – looking up at it from the front doorway. I’d feel rich just walking into this building. Compare this to what you see looking up at the front of Wal-Mart when you walk in. They just don’t know how to build them anymore.
Next: Re-Run Sports Building