Building Description T. Lanning & Company Department Store, Dennison Ohio
The T. Lanning and Co. Department Store is a handsome, early 20th century commercial building. The rectangular building is strategically located on a corner lot for high visibility. The building fronts on Grant Street (East/West) and parallels Third Street (North/South). Located across Third Street is the Village Hall, built circa 1922. Smaller scale commercial buildings are adjacent to the west. The building reflects an early 20th century preference for straight-forward and utilitarian design with its symmetrical elevations, ornamentation integrated into the wall surfaces, windows that are simple double hung one-over-one windows and a restrained parapet design. The ornamentation is linear and reinforces the orderly nature of the elevations.
Construction of this mixed-use building began during 1903 and it was dedicated on March 1, 1904. The three-story building is 55' x 125' in size. The original department store is evident on the first and second floors with its various departments and the mezzanine level offices at the rear of the building. On the second floor are three sets of offices.
The structure is built of multi-wythe brick bearing walls with wood floor joists supported by heavy wood beams and substantial wood columns with cast iron caps. The face brick is smooth-faced hard-burned red clay brick masonry on the primary elevations. The masonry is in poor condition in a number of areas on the Third Street elevation due to moisture problems associated with damaged or missing downspouts.
The Grant Street elevation consists of a glass storefront on the street level. Although the storefronts have been rebuilt, they retain the elements of the original - bulkhead, display window and transom. The main entrance is recessed between two structural columns. Storefront glazing flanks the entrance and the sides of the recess. In the entryway there is mosaic tile with the word "Lanning". The storefront is topped by leaded Luxfer prism glass. A portion of the Luxfer prism transom glass has been removed above the main entrance (possibly for a sign), and a large louver was installed on the west side of the main entry likely for an exhaust fan used by the previous restaurant operation. The restaurant operated in the 1970s and 1980s. Windows under the storefront display area that provided natural light to the basement have been covered over with sheet metal. On the west side of the Grant Street elevation is a recessed modern aluminum entrance door to the restaurant. There is a projecting sign mounted above this entrance that reads, "Dennison Family Restaurant." The door originally led to a stairway for the offices on the second floor and the apartments on the third floor. The stair has been removed from the first to the second floor, but still exists from the second to third floors.
The second and third floors are demarked by a metal band that divides the storefront from the floors above. Brick quoins are located on the corners and extend from the band above the first floor to the cornice at the parapet. The cornice is constructed of painted galvanized metal in poor condition. A large limestone panel with the word "Lanning" is centered on the Grant Street elevation, and is located in the parapet above the cornice band. A section of the parapet near the rear of the Third Street face was reportedly struck by lightning and is damaged and missing along with a portion of the cornice. Another section of the parapet on this elevation has collapsed.
The second floor windows on Grant Street consist of large 1/1 double hung wood windows topped with a transom. The window fenestration on the second floor is an alternation between single window with transom and paired windows divided by a brick pier that results in an a, b, a, b, a rhythm. The windows have limestone lintels and sills and are accentuated by a projected brick rowlock forming a hood around the window that wraps the stone lintel. The windows on the third floor are arranged vertically above the second floor. The windows are similar to the second floor, except without transoms due to a lower ceiling height. The center bay features a concentric raised brick rowlock pattern that suggests a window to maintain the fenestration rhythm. The condition of the windows throughout the building range from missing, replaced to poor. Exterior storm windows were added that are also in poor condition.
The storefront display window arrangement extends around the corner to the east (Third St.) elevation. The store window glass facing Third Street has been covered with plywood (alteration date unknown). On the street level, there are three single entrance doors. Above the doors are square awning type windows. Adjacent to the doors are paired windows that align with the windows above. These windows admit natural light to the original department store. The windows are high above the first floor to preserve wall space for displaying merchandise and admit natural light deep into the showroom. The window fenestration on the second and third floor is similar to Grant Street. There is lettering on the office window of Dr. Roy A. Wilson that is still visible. The third floor window fenestration is like the second floor without transoms over the windows.
The south/alley and exposed portion of the west party walls are constructed of a common brick. The fenestration pattern on these walls is unadorned punched openings with a segmental arched window opening. This portion of the building was inappropriately tuckpointed (appears to be the wrong mortar type) with the new mortar poorly matching the original mortar. The window fenestration is regular and utilitarian. The four levels at the rear of the building is reflective of the interior first floor mezzanine space. A large sliding freight entry door located on this elevation provides access to the freight elevator.
The west wall consists of a partial wall since an adjacent building shares the party wall. The third floor corridor is daylighted through large industrial steel windows.
A brick parapet capped with stone copings conceals the flat roof. The roof slopes from west to east and has a parapet on the two street sides. The roof of the apartment level corridor and the lower second floor roof slopes to the west. The roofing membrane consists of a coated, three-ply smooth surfaced, built-up asphalt roof on wood sheathing.
The interior shows evidence of deterioration, neglect and vandalism. The main floor was divided into two showrooms that extend unobstructed from front of the building to open staircases. Most of the walls are plaster over brick masonry in fair condition on the first and second floors, to very poor condition on the third floor.
The west portion of the building has inexpensive wood paneling and a suspended acoustic panel ceiling and was operated as a restaurant, and later a pool hall. The pool hall operation was suspended due to code violations and orders from the Village of Dennison. Pressed metal ceilings remain in many areas, but large portions of these ceilings have been removed in other areas. The store window display cases remain in the east showroom.
A system of open stairs at the rear of the building remains, though most of the railing has been removed. These stairs connect the two department store levels with the two mezzanine levels. The staircases served the mezzanine level where the centralized Department store office was located and the stairs lead customers to the second floor of the building. These stairs must have been quite impressive as originally built. The second mezzanine level was the "accounting room" where all purchases, receipts and change were verified.
The second floor showroom is less ornate than the first floor, and was originally divided from professional offices that housed a doctor and dentist at the front of the building. A hollow core wood door has been crudely installed to provide easy access for storage of odd lots of building materials between the second floor showroom and offices.
The third floor consists of six apartments. The plaster ceilings have fallen in numerous locations due to water damage from roof leaks. The windows along the corridor are industrial, steel type units with multiple units mulled together. Each window unit has an awning type ventilating sash area. These windows are in fair to poor condition. Much of the glazing of these windows has been broken out for a number of years, resulting in additional deterioration of the building interior.
In the summer of 1967, T. Lanning and Co., the town's main department store, closed its doors for good. The old store was not able to compete with new shopping centers that offered ample parking. The store, one of the largest buildings in downtown Dennison, stood empty for several years until the Twin City Water Department moved into the Lanning Building in newly created offices for a few years, before moving to another building in the adjacent City of Uhrichsville.