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Sears Roebuck Company, 1949

The Sears Roebuck Company building in Charlotte was completed in 1949, and is notable as a well preserved example of Modernist architecture.  The large brick building sits on a generally level lot and spans the entire block between North Tryon and North College streets in the northwest corner of the city's First Ward.  The building faces south across a large paved parking lot that occupies the southern half of the block.  The principal section of the building is two stories high, with a one-story wing projecting from the eastern part of the facade, and a four-story tower rising from the northeast corner of the building.   All exterior walls are triple wythe brick laid in a modified American bond with alternating headers and stretches in the bonding courses. 


Excluding the one-story front wing, the facade is generally symmetrical, with first-story fenestration limited to two wide entrances each containing a ribbon of metal-framed glass doors, and a storefront display window beside each entrance.  Between the entrances the first-story facade is divided by a series of  wall sections  veneered with concrete panels with exposed marble-chip aggregate.  These veneered sections border the entrances and alternate with sections of blank brick wall.  The same panels are used to form a masonry band along the base of the wall.  Five of the veneered sections and the entrances are recessed slightly.  The entrances are sheltered by a thick flat cantilevered concrete awning.   The remainder of the facade and sidewalk is sheltered by two thinner cantilevered concrete awnings that curve to joint the center awning above the entrances.

The facade is dominated by six tall banks of stone panels that begin at the concrete awnings and extend above the flat roofline. Each bank is composed of square sandstone panels.  A thick concrete band extends vertically from the awning and forms a cap supported by the banks of stone panels.  This concrete band along with he thick awning form a box around the facade's second-story stone panels.  Above the entrances, five vertical rows of the panels are stepped following the contour of the facade. The center upper panels are pierced.  The four banks of panels between the entrances are narrower and are solid above the roofline.  To the west of the stone panels, the second story is pierced by a series of four small windows with thick concrete casing. 


Projecting from the eastern part of the facade is a one-story wing, notable for ribbons of metal-framed windows interrupted only by concrete posts supporting the flat concrete roof.  The thin concrete awning that begins at the facade's eastern entrance curves around this projecting wing.  Above the one-story wing, the facade is pierces with six unadorned window openings.  The east elevation features a loading dock, and a view of the building's tower which houses elevator and other mechanicals. The rear of the building is largely blank.  The only exception is an entrance adjacent to the west elevation.  This rear entrance is surrounded by the same stone panels found on the facade.


The west elevation, which fronts North Tryon Street, is five bays wide, with a recessed display window in the center bay.  The other bays are blank sections of wall separated by sections of concrete panels.  The display window and the sidewalk is sheltered by a thin cantilevered concrete awning.  The second story is pierced by a series of ten small windows like those found on the western part of the facade.  A partial brick wall resembling a movie house marquee rises from the concrete awning at the north end of the elevation.  The northernmost bay formed by the partial wall is filled with a decorative concrete grid.

Rear Elevation

West Elevation