The Metropolitan Building was born during the great
building boom of the 1920's. In 1924 the architectural
firm of Weston & Ellington designed a 14 story
gothic office tower for Central Reality Company. The
site on John R. that was selected was somewhat unusual
in that it was on a triangular lot at the head of
an alley. Work on the building began in the summer
of 1924 and was completed in 1925. Walbridge Aldinger
was the general contractor.
Once completed the Metropolitan was a sight to behold.
The front of the building was faced with terra-cotta
gothic ornament that gave the building the look of
a cathedral. The upper and lower portions of the building
were faced with such ornament while the main shaft
was of cream brick. Inside one would find a breathtaking
two story lobby and a second floor retail arcade.
It was a jewel.
building in 1925.
Fitting that such a building be used by jewelers
and watchmakers. It was such businesses that utilized
the new building. For decades the Metropolitan was
the place to go for someone looking to procure some
fine jewelry or have their watch repaired.
Throughout the years the building underwent few physical
changes. In 1927 a mezzanine was added to the lobby.
In 1930 a fire escape was installed on the roof. Other
modifications were limited to the office space.
Throughout the 1970's the nature of the local economy
and neighborhood changed and occupancy dwindled. The
jewelers moved to the suburbs. The building finally
closed in 1979. At this time ownership was titled
to the city.
Though a perfect building for lofts the Metropolitan
would vacant. The building couldn't be sold due to
dangerous waste left behind by the watchmakers. The
building's past was hampering its future. In 1997
the Metropolitan was finally freed of this burden
when the city cleaned out the hazardous materials.
The remaining debris was cleared in 2003 as part of
a possible redevelopment.
It is now 2004 and the building still stands empty.
However the area is alive with new activity and the
Metropolitan sits on the brink of revival. Before
long a new chapter will be written in its history.