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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The 125,000 square foot Johnston Building was the tallest skyscraper in Charlotte when it opened in 1924. Though the First National Bank, one block away at Trade and Tryon Streets, promptly surpassed the Johnston Building in height and square footage, the Johnston Building was still regarded as being the epitome of style and elegance. The First National Bank building was completed in 1926, and had 160,000 square feet among its twenty stories. A contemporary newspaper article asserted that the Johnston Building, "Charlotte's tallest and newest office building, is attracting favorable comment as it nears completion because of the beauty and attractiveness of its exterior."

THINGS TO LOOK FOR

  • Having trouble identifying brick patterns, shingle patterns, or other parts? See the Illustrated Guidebook for help!
  • At fifteen stories, the Johnston Building was the tallest skyscraper in Charlotte when it opened in 1924. Yet it wasn't tall enough. The upper two floors were added in the late 1920's, making the building rise seventeen stories above ground, plus one floor below street level.See if you can tell where the added floors are at the top.
  • The entry bay is crowned by a raised cartouche bearing a tree motif.
  • The first floor interior is one of the richest spaces in Charlotte surviving from the era. A central corridor with an arched, coffered ceiling runs the length of the building. If you can take the time, go and see it for yourself.

    ACTIVITIES

    At the site...

  • Look up to see the Corinthian Order pilasters (half-columns that project out of the wall). Sketch an example.
  • Sketch other examples of classical details you see, such as the wave and shells pattern on the facade. Identify each detail you draw.
  • Sketch the cartouche (oval-shaped stonework above the front entry bay) and label it.

    On your own...

  • The Johnston Building and the First National Bank Building (one block up the street - you just saw it) are both Neoclassical in style. Compare what you see in these buildings. Look especially at details and entrances.
  • Keep in mind what you saw here. You can compare these details with another Neoclassical structure on Alternate Route 2, The Charlotte National Bank building.
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