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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

History

The green building and its adjoining neighbor are the Century and Gateway Buildings. Constructed in 1924-25 and 1925-26 respectively, they are distinguished by their architecture. The designer was one of the region's finest architects, Charles Christian Hook. The Gateway Building had several long-term tenants. Number 402 housed Smith's Book Store for over thirty years, and number 404 was an A & P grocery store.

The Century Building of 1925-1926 had a somewhat different history. The bright green terra cotta facade stands out along the Trade Street corridor. The golden tan decorative motifs contrast sharply with the restrained Neoclassical details of the Gateway Building. The storefront at 408 West Trade Street was often vacant in the 1920's. From the late 1930's to the late 1960's, the storefront was occupied by a barbershop, during World War II it became known as the "Victory Barber Shop," a name it retained for over twenty years. The second-story offices at 408-1/2 were occupied from the late 1930's until the early 1960's by King's Business College, which continues to operate at another location in the city.

Architecture

The Gateway Building has a two-story symmetrical facade (front side) covered with limestone facing West Trade Street. The roofline covered with green terra cotta roof tiles, the slight boxed eave overhang, and simplified cornice all place the building in the Neoclassical style. The Neoclassical style is further evidenced in two other decorative elements: 1) the plain panels beneath each pair of second floor windows; and 2) the round patera with stylized rose petals between each of the recessed panels.

The Century Building is quite different from its next door neighbor. Conceived by Hook in 1925, it is an excellent example of Art Deco that emphasizes verticality and has motifs of sunrise patterns. The entry to the lobby is located on the facade of the Century Building. The area surrounding the door becomes part of a tower, a characteristic of Art Deco.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR

  • Having trouble identifying brick patterns, shingle patterns, or other parts? See the Illustrated Guidebook for help!
  • Notice the differences in these buildings: the solid and restrained Neoclassical Gateway Building as compared with the bright and busy Century Building.
  • On the Century Building, notice how the design elements emphasize verticality - moving the eye up and down.

    ACTIVITIES

    At the site...

  • Sketch the tall, tan decorative motif (see photo below) found between the pairs of windows on the Century Building. Write a brief description on how this element represents the Art Deco emphasis on the vertical.

  • Sketch with detail of the brick patterns of the Century Building right above the awnings and label the pattern. Do the same also with the stonework pattern on the Gateway Building just below the roofline. Write a brief description on the differences you see and how these differences are examples of Neoclassical and Art Deco styles.
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