Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Power Blocks II: Ohmer's Factory & Ice Avenue

More examples of the mid-block industrial loft typology:

Ohmer’s Factory

Another example of loft construction in the heart of the city is the Ohmer Furniture factory. Built sometime after 1875 facing 1st Street, and was replaced in the 1920s by one of those parking garages that look like commercial buildings (but with a nice terra cotta facade)

(stage fly of the Victoria is immediatly to the right in the pix)

A second loft building was built to the rear, connected to the main factory by a bridge. It isn’t a true power block as it was not built on spec, but for a single business. The concept of high density mid-block infill is still evident, though, which makes it of the type.
One can see the building in the background of this Main Street pix (old wood building with the long porch was antebellum, and a tavern or saloon of some sort). Ohmers original showroom of 1875 (perhaps a workshop too, on the upper floors) was next door.

Ice Avenue Lofts

Only one of these 19th century downtown power blocks still stands, converted into lofts. It's also a good example of how secondary streets and alleys developed downtown to provide better access into the blocks.

A tannery appears on the site in the 1875 combination atlas and in the 1889 Sanborn, but based on the building heights, 2, 1, and 4 stories, this isn’t the building we see today, except, maybe, for the side facing Ice Street, which may have been part of this original tannery.

One can see a new alley running north/south between Spratt (Ice) and 1st.

And a modern photo, houses along St Clair have been replaced by a commercial buildings, but this is probably how these power blocks looked, setting back away from the main streets.

By the 1898 Sanborn (north is to the left) one can see a true loft use, with multiple companies occupying the building. The side alley is still there, too. This was a pretty dense little block.
(also, the ice works can be seen at the intersecton of Harris and Spratt)

The building today, pretty sure this is the last surviving 19th century industrial building in the heart of downtown (i.e. on the the original plat).

No comments: