Building Description John T. Beasley Building - Citizens Gas & Fuel Company, Terre Haute Indiana
The building, four stories high plus a full basement, is a long rectangle of 73' 6" by 150'.
The Beasley building is a good example of the three-part vertical block which had developed in Chicago. By the 1920s, examples of this type were dominant in tall buildings. Although on a much smaller scale, three distinct zones are apparent in the Terre Haute building, the first floor, the central feature of which is a central, display window with a segmental arch, recessed and infilled with decorative terracotta and a tripartite bay window. The center zone contrasts this motif with flat head windows, whose rhythms echo the ground floor fenestration. Untypically, the upper zone is dominate in the composition, with bracketing adding height to the row of windows and an impression of further height added by an ornately decorated parapet.
Stylistically the building reflects its designer's Chicago commercial style influences, as well as Neo-Classic elements in the decorative embellishments of the facade. Designers of this era looked to the Beaux Arts lexicon, recalling its figures in updated motifs and with sleeker, more restrained lines. All of these practices were fairly common among architecture of the first part of the twentieth century and similar examples can be found throughout the midwest. However, what sets this building apart, for the Terre Haute area is that its entire facade, and wrap-around portions of the east and west facades are faced with terra cotta, in an unusually good state of preservation. The detailing of the decorative elements are delineated on the original drawings and include a generous variety of motifs. While other buildings in the area contain similar elements, none which remain are as complete examples of this expensive, and often custom-produced treatment.
The building was erected, primarily, to serve as headquarters for the Citizens Gas & Fuel Company, which included executives, maintenance, sales persons, and other staff. The upper two floors were leased as professional offices. Generally, the portions of the building occupied by the gas company contained two large open spaces. One of these spaces, on the ground floor was for merchandise display. On the second floor, the auditing department and a home service room were accommodated. Very few partitions were built on the gas company floors, there was plenty of light, utile, comfortable working and customer service spaces.
The upper floors were flexible, in that both had commodious central corridors running from north to south, but they could also be adapted to lessees' needs through movable partitions.