1895 ‘Modern’ Neo-Gothic Insurance Building Claimed by Wrecking Ball After Only 3 Decades | Entertainment / Life

When it rose into the New Orleans skyline in 1895, it was declared a triumph – both a visual feast and a modern marvel, a seven-story castle-like structure on the streets Carondelet and Common in the middle of the other “skyscrapers” of the financial district of the city at the time. piece.

A neo-Gothic testament to the work of eminent New Orleans architect Thomas Sully in gray pressed bricks and brown terracotta, it would house – and bear his name – the English insurance conglomerate Liverpool, London and Globe.

A little over 30 years later, however, it would be dust, demolished to make way for another more modern office building, making it yet another victim of progress – and another entry in the Big Book of Ain. ‘t There No More.

His address – 204 Carondelet – was nothing new to Liverpool, London and England-based Globe Insurance Co., which previously occupied a four-story row building on the site. But in 1894, these old quarters were neither big enough nor big enough for what was the headquarters of the company’s six-state region.

It didn’t hurt that the site was surrounded at the time by other large construction projects: on the one hand, the 10-story Hennen Building – credited by some as the first true skyscraper in the city – stood right in front of Carondelet. On the other hand, the St. Charles hotel was being (re) built following the fire of April 1894 which had swept it away.

The three new buildings were designed by Sully, who was known for adopting modern technology, including the use of steel and fire-resistant replacement concrete for the timber frame. As an added benefit, these materials also helped make the buildings stronger and therefore taller.

If you’ve paid attention in grade school – or one of those annual “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” broadcasts – you know that Thanksgiving h …

“Shortly after the St. Charles Hotel burned down,” an October 1894 article in the Daily Picayune read, “the lot (Liverpool, London and Globe) was cleared of the unsightly brick structures which once graced this corner, and the foundation has been laid for the new building, which will be one of the most ornamental structures in the city when completed, if not among the most substantial.

This foundation consisted of 359 pine piles, each 50 feet long. Above them rose a steel frame.

So the building, which cost around $ 250,000 (almost $ 8 million today), had good bones. But, when finished, it was also a spectator.

On the first floor, the highlight was the 16 foot main entrance. Opening onto Common Street, it was closed off by two square pillars and adorned with all manner of terracotta ornaments, including the coats of arms of Liverpool, London and the Globe.

“The vestibule is completely white marble and the hallway leading to it has marble floors and marble paneling four feet high,” wrote the Daily Picayune.

The rest of the facade was lined with massive windows, each about 18 feet high, and adorned with the letters “LLG”.

While this is not visible in the handful of photographs of the building that exist, longtime local banker Sam Hebert recalled in a 1977 interview with The Times-Picayune that the corner in front of the building also housed a clock indicating different times all around. the world.

“It was something to see,” Hébert said. “Tourists came just to watch it. ”

Thanksgiving 1852 was near, but the Methodists in New Orleans could be forgiven if they felt a little less grateful than usual.

The higher the gaze, the more ornate the facade of the building, with bay windows, balconies and moldings protruding from the front, all decorated with detailed terracotta ornamentation valued at $ 12,000 .

The tallest windows of its mansard roof featured dramatic peaks, complementing the castle-like tower on the corner of Common and Carondelet, itself topped with red German tiles. The effect, as described by Picayune, was in “the style of French chateau architecture”.

It was quite a fashionable address from the start. The ground floor and sixth floor housed the building’s namesake company, through which it handled the affairs of a six-state region.

In addition, however, the building contained some 45 two-room office suites, with a bathroom on each floor, mail chutes and steam heaters in each room, and a lounge on the third floor “for the patron ladies. occupants of the building. . ”

Two elevators “of the most modern design” would propel the tenants to the upper floors with “a speed far greater than any currently circulating in the city”.

In 1904, a decade after construction began on the building, plans were announced to demolish an adjacent building to make way for a two-room annex built in the same ‘French chateau’ style.

That same year, The Picayune’s Sixth Edition “Guide to New Orleans” described the finished product as “one of the city’s most notable commercial buildings. It was erected at great expense and is regarded with great interest by foreigners due to the architectural beauty and finish of the exterior and interior.

Even in a city filled with buildings with colorful stories, that of the impressive Xiques Mansion, at 521 rue Dauphine in the French Quarter,…

How quickly opinions change.

With the takeoff of the Modernist style, in February 1928, it was announced in the Picayune that the building had been sold “for something like” $ 1 million to the American Bank, which demolished it to make way for the National American 23-story building by architect Moise Goldstein. Bank building.

This building, which itself is considered architecturally significant, still stands, having been converted into apartments.

As for the Liverpool, London and Globe building, it still has a sister structure of the same name – but a very different architectural style – on Dale Street in Liverpool.

In New Orleans, however, this is only a memory, existing only in faded photographs.

Sources: The Times-Picayune archives; Picayune’s Guide to New Orleans, Sixth Edition; Preservation in printing.

Do you know of a building in New Orleans that deserves to be featured in this column, or are you just curious? Contact Mike Scott at [email protected]

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