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Downtown PRO Collection

Washington Avenue at Christmas, Circa 1965

by Michael R. Allen

From the Preservation Research Office Collection.

This photograph captures the reflection of a Christmas castle and part of the Stix, Baer & Fuller Grand Leader store building (1906, Mauran Russell & Garden; 1919, Mauran, Russell & Crowell) spread across Washington Avenue. The view is looking southeast from Sixth Street, and the procession of buildings on the south side of the street is pretty clear despite the visual accident. The view down Washington is terminated by the elevated lanes of Interstate 70, completed in 1964, so the date of this photograph — unmarked and unrecorded — is 1964.

At right, we have the S.S. Kresge store at Broadway and Washington, which opened in its streamline-slipcovered building 1939. Across the street and to the east is a surface parking lot where the B. Nugent & Brother Dry Goods Store had stood until just a few years prior. That lot gets a view of the side wall of the J. Kennard & Sons Carpet Company Building (1901, Isaac Taylor), which otherwise presented elevations articulated and adorned in the manner of the Italian Renaissance. That building would later be expanded by the Edison Brothers Company after they moved their headquarters there. The Nugent site would give rise to the studious but dour modernist mass of the 500 Broadway Building (Smith-Entzeroth, 1970).

Further east, this photograph includes a rare glimpse of a seven-story commercial building that once stood at the southeast corner of Fourth and Washington that was once home to Trorlicht-Duncker Carpet Company. That building was demolished in 1966 to make way for the northernmost of the three-story Mansion House Center office buildings (Schwarz & Van Hoefen, 1967).

One reply on “Washington Avenue at Christmas, Circa 1965”

Ah, I remember my folks taking me and my brothers & sister “downtown” to walk around Famous Barr.  Each window had a different fantasy display.  I’d stand with my face pressed against the glass until another kid could nudgde me over. 

Today, I call my kid over to look at a display on YouTube.

What “good ‘ol days” is he gonna tell about?

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