Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The History of Old Buildings Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to photograph and post descriptions of interesting buildings and structures in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The building shown in the photo is the Grand Rapids Flat Iron Building at the corner of Monroe Center and Ottawa near Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

    Here are the facts: The Flat Iron Building was built by Moses Aldrich and his father-in-law William B. Ledyard 1859-1860 and is the oldest commercial building in downtown Grand Rapids. The building is part of the “Ledyard Block” a designated landmark with national significance. Moses V. Aldrich was an important business man of the time and the Mayor of Grand Rapids 1868-1869-1870. Aldrich was a very civic minded mayor and dedicated to improving the lot of the poor. Aldrich built his own home on land at the corner of Cherry and College where the Hillmount condominums are now located.

    The Flat Iron Building is considered to be “Civil War Italianate” architecture. It was home to retail stores, a bank on the first floor and offices and a boarding house upstairs. The adjacent buildings are narrow, four-story brick buildings also Italianate style with window trim that matches the others.

    The Flat Iron Building is one of the first brick structures of the downtown area. At the time it was built, there were many fires due to the nature of construction of that era most likely due to the fact that wood frame buildings were susceptible to fire. ”In 1857, 25 buildings along Monroe between Market and Ottawa avenues burned.”

    Although this building is a mainstay of the downtown area, it has not been fully “functional” for many years. The upper floors have not been in use since the 1940′s. It is now under renovation for commercial use following LEED standards and to make available 31,500 square feet of retail and commercial space.

    Fast Forward to summer 2011. Downtown law firm Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge will be moving into this Grand Rapids landmark. Once again the Flat Iron Building will be a centerpiece on Monroe Center as Smith, Haughey, Rice & Roegge completes the renovation of the upper floors of the Flat Iron Building and moves from its current offices in the Calder Plaza Building to this great spot right across Monroe Center from the award-winning Grand Rapids Art Museum.

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