Historic Structures

Rosenberg Brothers Department Store, Albany Georgia

Rosenberg Brothers Department Store is significant as one of Albany's largest and most successful historic retail enterprises, and it illustrates Albany's growing importance as a regional trade center in the early twentieth century. Rosenberg's is believed to be the oldest commercial establishment in Albany which has been continuously operated by the same family. The store has additional significance as an early example of the chain" store which has become such an omni-present part of twentieth century commerce. The Rosenbergs opened their first store in Troy, Alabama in 1894. In 1896, Jacob Rosenberg opened a branch in Albany, having met and married Annie Cohn of Albany and having decided to settle there. The store was established from the first with a "One-Price-to-All" plan, which deviated from the nineteenth century merchants' practice of bargaining with customers and established Rosenberg's as a model of modern merchandising practices in the area. Using this retailing system the store flourished. By 1905 it had outgrown its original quarters, and new quarters were obtained by buying out an existing dry goods store at the present location at the corner of Pine Avenue and Washington Street. In 1911, the Rosenbergs bought this building outright and continued to expand until this facility, also became too small. In 1923, the adjacent building on Washington Street burned and shortly after, the Rosenberg brothers purchased that property. The present structure was built in two stages in 1923- 1924 so the store could continue in operation while construction was underway. First built was the south half, on the site of. the burned building; when it was completed, the merchandise was transferred there, the old store was demolished and the second, north half of the store was constructed on the old foundation. The opening of the new store in 1924 established Rosenberg's undisputed claim as Albany's largest and finest department store. This was a time of great prosperity in Albany, due primarily to the city's excellent rail connections, and Rosenberg's was one of a number of major buildings to be constructed during the period. Rosenberg's continued operation at this downtown location until 1978, two years after a mall branch was opened and the downtown store was judged no longer profitable. Gray Communications bought and renovated the building in 1985 to house the Albany Herald.

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New York Central Terminal, Buffalo New York

The New York Central Terminal is a monumental example of an Art Deco style civic structure. Built between 1927 and 1930, the huge complex consists of the main terminal building flanked by three wings, a power plant, six supporting structures, and the open green space to the west of the terminal. A Railroad Express Terminal Building, built prior to the complex in 1917, is also included part of the complex. The station is especially distinguished for the degree and scale with which it manifests the Art Deco style in both its immense exterior design and its lavish, grand interior. Nearly all of the architectural features associated with the style are evident in the station's massing, materials, and details and are further highlighted by the high degree of craftsmanship and design quality evident in its construction. The terminal attests to Buffalo's role as the geographic center of American commerce from the beginning of the railroad age in the mid-nineteenth century until its climax in the mid-twentieth century. With a total of fourteen lines serving the city, Buffalo's railroad network was second in size only to that of Chicago. The complex is also noteworthy as a representative work of the regionally prominent architectural firm of Fellheimer and Wagner, specialists in railroad station design. One of the last great railroad complexes built in the expansionist era of the 1920s, the New York Central Terminal retains high architectural integrity and remains as one of the few extant landmarks representing Buffalo's role as a national railroad transportation center. Ownership of much of western New York, including what is now the city of Buffalo, was in the hands of the French, British and Six-Nations Indian tribe throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The British won formal control of the area with the 1763 treaty ending the French and Indian War, only to have to cede it to the new American government in the Treaty of Paris twenty years later. However, the British remained in control of most of the Niagara frontier until 1796. In 1793, Robert Morris of Philadelphia bought the land west of the Genesee River from the state of Massachusetts. After retaining a strip for himself surrounding the river, Morris sold the remainder to the Holland Land Company, a group of Dutch investors. The settlement of the area was rather slow due to the continued presence of the British at Fort Niagara and other outposts as well as the lack of roads leading into the area.

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Brown Shoe Company Factory, Litchfield Illinois

The factory was built with a reported $70,000 in community raised funds and built during a record fifty working days; it opened in March of 1917. The building represented at the time the next largest industry in Litchfield after the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation built earlier in 1904. The prominent St. Louis architect Albert Barleton Groves designed the Brown Shoe Company Factory building and supervised its construction. Incorporated in nearby St. Louis, Missouri, in 1893 under the name Brown Shoe Company by president George Warren Brown, the company expanded into Midwestern cities with additional manufacturing plants, warehouses, and supply centers beginning in the 1910s. Competition for these vital facilities resulted in many communities raising their own construction funds to attract Brown Shoe to town; such was the case in Litchfield, Illinois. The Litchfield Brown Shoe Company Factory was originally designed in 1917 in a "T" shape with the primary facade located in the north and west-facing building corner of a "T" shape along South State Street; the building received a major historic addition first in 1922 (expanded to four-stories by the mid-1920s) that resulted in the present "F" shape building. The Litchfield plant provided a great number of desperately needed jobs for the local and surrounding communities from its inception in 1917 until the early 1950s. The Brown Shoe Company survived the Great Depression, even establishing a vital employee welfare association, a recreation park, a credit union, and other special programs for its Litchfield employees and staff. Towards the end of the 1930s, Brown Shoe developed a soon-to-be nationally known brand of men's shoes known as "Roblee" the brand was solely manufactured in the Litchfield plant.

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Best Brewing Company of Chicago - Best Brewery, Chicago Illinois

The Best Brewing Company began in 1891; however, the site had been home to a brewery since 1885. At that time, it was Klockgeter & Company, which only lasted a-short time, and then became Kagebein & Folstaff. In 1891, the Hasterlik brothers purchased the brewery and operated it for the next seventy years. The four Hasterlik brothers (Samuel, Charles,- Henry, and Ignatz) pulled down the small brewery and built the existing plant in 1893, beginning a great family brewing tradition that was one of few to survive Prohibition. The history of the Best Brewing Company is a history of the German beer business in Chicago, reflecting its many struggles and changes through most of a century. Germans had continually been one of the largest immigrant groups on Chicago's North Side. Being traditionally a beer drinking and brewing people, many brought their brewing skills and know-how with them to Chicago. In 1850, the population of Chicago was 30,000, with 17% German. By 1870, it had grown to 300,000, with Germans remaining one of the largest immigrant groups. By the late 19th century, the German beer business was entrenched on Chicago's North Side, although it had taken a political struggle to reach this point. In 1854, with whiskey as the drink of Chicago's "Know Nothing" Mayor Levi D. Boone and his colleagues, a campaign was waged against Germans and their beer. Beer halls were ordered to close on Sunday and the liquor license fee was raised 600%. During the following Sundays, police arrested more than 100 Germans in beer halls while ignoring saloons selling whiskey. When the eases came to trial in April, 1855 several hundred Germans battled police near the courthouse in a riot that left one dead and many injured. Consequently, the Mayor backed down, affirming the right of the City's German population to make and drink beer. As a result of these events, Germans proceeded to brew beer and lead Chicago to rank as the sixth largest beer producer in the nation by the turn of the century. In the 1882 book The Brewing and Malting Industry of Chicago, the important connection is made between the agriculture and brewing industries. Malting and brewing are the two stages of the process by which grain becomes beer, and at this time, over a million acres of barley were needed to produce the crop for malting in Chicago alone. The combination of agriculture and concentration of German immigrants brought brewing to the Midwest. According to the 1882 book, "Chicago is most favorably located as a great center of beer brewing, by reason of its admirable and unfailing sources of water and malt supply, and on account of its superior advantages with respect to the distribution, in all directions, of the product."

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Illinois Central Railroad Depot, Ullin Illinois

Ullin is located about 18 miles north of Cairo, Illinois where the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers occur. It is located in northern Pulaski County, which was formed on March 3rd, 1843. Pulaski County is named after the Revolutionary war hero, General Casimir Pulaski, who was killed in 1779 during the Revolutionary War. As early as 1702 the French government issued charters to protect the junction of the two rivers and control all commercial transactions into the territory. After the French and Indian War which began in 1756 all possessions of the French east of the Mississippi River were transferred to the English. In 1776 the war for American Independence began and the land was taken from the British. In December 1778 the state of Virginia created the first civil government for what was called a new county of Virginia. They named it "Illinois County." In 1784 the United States government took control over the area and it became known as the Northwest Territory. In 1787 it was divided due the increasing population. It became the Indiana Territory. Finally in 1809, Illinois was separated from Indiana and became known as the Illinois Territory. In 1818 Illinois became the 21st state of the Union. Several county divisions occurred before Pulaski County was named in 1843. Prior to the arrival of white settlers, this area was home to tribes of Shawnee Indians. The Shawnee National Forest now preserves many of the areas where these tribes made their home. Local farmers still discover small artifacts of the Indian tribes that once inhabited the hills and fields near Ullin. For the same reason the Indians made their home here, settlers arriving via the Ohio River made their way into the rich fertile lands of Southern Illinois. The settlers were not always welcomed with open arms and many lost their life at the hands of hostile Indians who saw the new arrivals as their enemy.

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Aurora Watch Factory - Aurora Corset Company, Aurora Illinois

The Aurora Watch Company was one of a number of local watch companies in America, most have their hometowns' names (i.e., Elgin, Waltham, Rockford, Springfield...). Aurora won this factory through competition between towns as was recently done for a number of auto factories. The outcome was based on the allowances or inducements from an area. Aurora came up with a capital base of $250,000, of which $75,000 was from the citizenry, and land. The first directors were all jewelers: E.W. Trask, of Aurora; M. Wendell of Chicago, the originator of the move; M. Hoffman, of Quincy; A.H. Pike, of Kankakee; and George F. Johnson, who was the superintendent and worked closely with Adler & Sullivan on the watch factory's requirements. Mr. Johnson had the background in the size of machinery, the required space, and the order of assembly of such intricate goods as watches. In Watch Factories of America, Henry Abbott credited George Johnson with designing the machinery and the factory. At the time of the Watch Company's incorporation, other factories in Aurora were an iron foundry, a well works (well-digging equipment), a creamery, a smelting and refining company, a road cart factory, cotton mills, and a corset company (the Chicago Corset Company, not related to the Aurora Corset Company). Also in early Aurora were a light and power company, three banks, the Chicago Telephone Company, and the Aurora Street Railway. In 1885 the Company decided to move its headquarters from Chicago to its Aurora factory, and new officers were elected. When the watch company's business was well established, the rest of its proposed factory would be erected, but it never was.

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Johnson Railroad Depot, Johnson Vermont

The Johnson Depot is significant as an excellent example of Victorian railroad architecture. Its distinctive Stick Style uses heavy chamfered wood trusses under wide eaves, and is otherwise enriched with Queen Anne period detail. The interior plan was a standard on northern Vermont rail lines, with separate waiting rooms for men and women, richly finished in beaded fir panelling. Both the interior and exterior are in near-original condition, including much of the hardware and fixtures. The Depot's significance to the community goes far beyond its distinctive architecture. For nearly a century it played a major role in the economic and social lives of Johnson's townspeople, linking them to the people and markets of the whole nation. In 1887 this building was erected to replace an earlier structure which had served since 1872, the year the St. Johnsbury and Lamoille County Railroad first brought rail service to the town. Although the St. Johnsbury and Lamoille County line was originally financed and constructed by the Fairbanks Family of St. Johnsbury as a means of shipping their world-famous scales directly to their western buyers, the railroad's most permanent impact was to bring the hitherto-isolated mountain regions of north central Vermont into the industrial age. Much of Johnson's heavy produce; milk, woolen goods, talc, and wood products, passed through the Depot's freight doors. Express freight service made mail order shopping convenient, and kept the town supplied with fresh fruit and produce, groceries, and same-day mail. Passenger service also made it possible to make a one-day trip to Burlington for business or shopping.

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