Building Description Brown Shoe Company Factory, Litchfield Illinois

The Brown Shoe Company Factory measures approximately 200 feet by 120 feet and occupies a larger building site that incorporates a separate powerhouse building, green spaces, previously landscaped grounds, and a large parking lot; the site is adjacent to a local ball field (known as Schalk Field) that was originally the Brown Shoe Company recreation park grounds and earlier a property of the Big Four Railroad. The present property is situated at the northeast corner of South State Street (running north and south) and East Sargent Street (running east and west). Residential and some light commercial buildings are to the south and east of the property, commercial buildings are to the west, and a large vacant expanse and parking lot separates the property from the town center of Litchfield immediately north.

The Brown Shoe Company Factory is a four-story red brick factory and office building with few minor additions on secondary and hidden elevations. The primary facade and main entrance are situated in the northwest niche of the building and is set back from South State Street. Verified via an early architectural plan of the building, this primary facade is indeed located at the northwest corner of the building where the main entrance/office bay was set back from the street with the factory wing extending to South State Street; this intact portion includes two four-story building portions and a single one-story building portion as described below. Each window bay is boarded with an inset plexi-glass window set within the board.

The four-story, fifteen bay factory protrusion extending from the center of the building (from the office portion) and terminating at South State Street has four stories that are completely unadorned. The fifteen window bays per floor have concrete sills that are painted; some paint has chipped away exposing the bare concrete below. Above each bay is an original painted angle iron lintel. The parapet wall is unadorned and spans the width of the wing. Painted in the area above the fourth-story is "BROWN SHOE COMPANY INC. ST. LOUIS;" above the third-story "ADENCA INC." is painted on the wall.

A four-story extension from the original factory space contains the historic stairwell, offices, restrooms and main entrance. This building portion has two bays per floor with a solid brick span in between a third bay nearest the factory wing. A one-story extension of the building extends to the north and contains two window bays.

Continuing along the north-facing elevation of the building, the original 1917 office/multiple use portion of the building has four bays in the first-story extension; above, and set back from the one-story portion, three bays (similar to the bays described previously) span three stories above. The one-story extension and the four-story portion have subtly shaped parapet walls. Visible on the roof of the four-story portion are the elevator shaft and stairwell access to the roof. The east-facing elevation of this portion has two exposed bays on the second through the fourth stories.

The remainder of the original 1917 four-story building portion (facing north) has ten similar window bays from the second through the fourth stories. Along the roofline is painted "PATENT WELTS." Again, the parapet roof is flat. At ground level two one-story additions are visible. Both of these additions replaced earlier demolished building additions after the later 1950s, using some of the earlier window framing in the newer construction.

The four-story section extending from the eastern-most portion of the building was begun in 1922 and completed by 1924; it contains thirteen similar bays on the three upper floors that face west. Below, at ground level is the previously mentioned flat roof addition. Inside the one-story addition the original 1922 first-story window bays and exterior brick walls are intact.

The north-facing portion of the previously mentioned wing contains six similar bays per floor; an iron fire escape extends from the upper story towards the ground. At the raised, but flat parapet is painted "LITCHFIELD PLANT." Immediately in front of this entire northern-facing elevation is a concrete-paved parking lot and overgrown plantings. Low-cut grass separates the complex from the adjacent lots to the north.

The east-facing elevation illustrates the original 1917 building and the 1922-1924 addition via a visible building seam just beyond the sixth bay of the southernmost portion of the building. The 1917 building portion has a slightly stepped parapet wall while the remaining 1924 four-story addition has a flat roofline. At the northernmost edge of the building elevation, a raised parapet roof is visible. The entire elevation of the 1922-1924 addition contains thirteen similar window bays per floor; the original 1917 building contains six per floor. Some of the openings have been converted for use as a fire escape.

The south-facing elevation is split by a four-story restroom addition that was constructed in 1957. The span of the original building contains similar window bays and a flat roofline. Nearest the westernmost extension of the building, an additional raised parapet wall is visible. The 1957 four-story restroom addition was constructed over what were originally railroad lines on a secondary elevation along East Sargent Street. The addition is set over a concrete foundation and contains a number of small window bays on three elevations. Along this elevation, at ground level are two original loading dock bays with early wood doors and transoms. A later one-story loading dock building is also located along this elevation. Inside the structure and along the original 1917-building wall are a few original twelve-over-twelve wood windows.

The west-facing elevation along South State Street contains six bays that are divided three per side with a span of brick in between. A fire escape extends down from the fourth-story. The roof exhibits a shaped parapet roofline that steps down to the south; "BROWN SHOE CO" is painted above the fourth-story. Also visible along this elevation is an entrance to the newer, one-story loading dock addition along East Sargent Street.

The separate, one-story red brick powerhouse addition to the east of the main building has been rebuilt recently and contains a number of recent additions. This condemned building has a flat roof and newer window infill as well as recent brick application on a number of walls.

The Brown Shoe Company Factory interior appears substantially as it was originally constructed between 1917 and 1924 with few newer office partitions constructed on some floors. There is no basement or crawlspaces in the building. The main "L" shape building portion contains the factory spaces, which are primarily open in plan with a series of heavy wooden columns running down the middle of each of the floors. The first floor of this space contains poured concrete; the upper three floors contain tongue-and-groove wood. Some of the original wood flooring is buckling due to exposure to the elements. Ceilings are all exposed and exhibit floor joists and sub-floors. Interior walls are either exposed brick or painted brick.

An elevator shaft opening into the long portion of the "L" shape (1917 building) is inoperable. Also opening into this same portion is the 1957 restroom addition. This addition is assessed via two original window bays; while the center brick wall pane is intact on each floor, windows were simply cut down to floor level. The restroom addition contains both men's and women's facilities, however each floor has a slightly different design configuration. Each restroom has glazed hollow tile blocks lining the walls and room divisions. Windows are typical of the period; many are broken. A loading dock structure, constructed after the 1960s but replacing an earlier one, is entered via a bay located at the building edge at State and Sargeant streets on the first floor. Of note are at least six original 12-over-12 windows, intact but in poor condition.

Entered as well from the long portion of the "L" shape (1917 building) portion is a post-1960, one-story shop addition with concrete block interior walls and steel and concrete ceiling. The portion is currently hazardous. Nearest the 1922-1924 addition, a second circa-1959 shop addition is nestled within the corner of the "L" shape factory. Intact are the original window bays of the factory building. The later addition has brick walls and steel beams supporting the ceiling.

The interior of the original 1917 main entrance and office portion contains restrooms on the first floor, two offices that were remodeled in the 1970s, and a main stairwell access; an additional exit is inside the stairwell. The remaining three floors of a portion of the 1917 office portion contains some office divisions; most have collapsing walls and are in poor condition. Wood flooring in these portions is also in poor condition.