Old Sears store in Kentucky
Sears, Roebuck and Company Store, Louisville Kentucky
The Sears Roebuck and Company Store, built in 1928, is one of few structures in Louisville, and the only major commercial/retail building, constructed in the Art Deco Style.
The late 1920s and early 1930s was a time of relative inactivity in Louisville's building and expansion. The largest structures of this period were constructed either by large national corporations or public agencies. The Art Deco and Art Modern styles, which were popular in the period, are represented by only a few scattered structures in the city. These include: the South Central Bell Office Building, the major monument of the Art Deco style in Louisville; the Louisville Municipal Bridge Pylons by Paul Cret; the Greyhound Bus Depot (destroyed) and Bowman Air Field, the latter two designed by the local firm of Wischmeyer, Arrasmith & Elswick. Two schools were built in the Art Deco style which survive today, Barrett Junior High School and Meyzeek Elementary and the Fire Department Headquarters, all WPA projects. The only major commercial-retail building constructed in the city in the Art Deco style was the 1928 Sears store (matching east addition was constructed in 1946). The store incorporates the major features of the style using strong vertical elements, outweighing the basic horizontal mass of the building, buff-colored brick and stylized geometric decoration.
The Sears store also initiated the concept of free parking for an inner-city retail establishment, which marks the ascendency of the automobile as the primary transportation mode.
The Sears Roebuck and Company Store was designed by the prominent Chicago firm of Nimmons, Carr & Wright. Besides a number of stores for Sears Roebuck and Company, the firm also designed the Chicago Beach Hotel, the AllState Insurance Building in Chicago and the Portland Cement Laboratories in Evansville, Illinois.
The Sears Roebuck and Company Store was purchased by the Louisville Gas & Electric Company, with plans to renovate the structure to use as offices.
The Sears Roebuck and Company Store is on the southwest edge of Louisville's central business district. The structure is two blocks east of the old Union Station, and close to the Chestnut Street Methodist Church South.
The Sears Roebuck and Company Store is a three-story, buff-brick building with a five-story tower, a common feature of Sears buildings of the period. The building originally consisted of six bays. Two bays of the same style and materials have been added, as well as one bay in stone. The ground floor originally had large display windows which have been covered with wood siding. The building originally: had three bays on the right side of the facade, The fourth bay contained the entry and tower. This was flanked by two bays on the left. The three bays were additions to this side of the facade.
Each of the brick bays is flanked by plain brick pilasters which rise for the height of the three stories and are capped by a plain stone band. The section above the first-floor window area consists of a horizontal band of decorative brickwork in a chevron pattern. Above this are four horizontal bands of brick that protrude from the wall surface. A stone band divides this floor from the second and third floors. The third floor has three windows per bay which are divided by two smaller pilasters that run the height of the second and third stories. The pilasters are topped by plain stone capitals with stylized, geometric carvings. The capitals extend above the plain stone band which caps the building. The windows of the second floor have been closed.
The entry bay is constructed of stone on the first floor. Geometric decorations embellish the entry. The second and third floors are the same as the other bays with the exception of the addition of two small brick pilasters under each window. The pilasters flanking this bay extend to the cornice of the tower. The tower has three windows on the fourth floor and one on the fifth. The narrower pilasters of the bay also continue to rise to the cornice of the tower. The tower is topped by a straight cornice which has five bands of recessed brick. The tower concealed the water tank and other mechanical equipment when the building was constructed.