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The Bisbee Building

Mike Shell

Jacksonville, United States

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Artist's Description

Bisbee Building (Henry J. Klutho, 1908-09), 47 N. Laura Street, Jacksonville, FL (10/21/2012)

Accepted into “Full Frontal Facades” (10/25/2012)

The following excerpted from Abandoned Jacksonville: The Laura Street Trio:

Part of Laura Street Trio, along with The Florida Life Building, also designed by Klutho in 1912 and the “Marble Bank,” in 1902 as the Mercantile Exchange Bank.

This building was originally constructed to be only twenty-six feet wide, one-half of its present width. The novelty of it being Jacksonville’s first skyscraper made the office space highly sought after, and the building was completely rented before construction was finished. Thus, the owner, William A. Bisbee, directed the architect H.J. Klutho to double the size of the building. The east wall of the original narrow tower was removed and an additional vertical section was added, resulting in its present configuration. The ten-story building was Florida’s first reinforced-concrete frame highrise office building. According to Klutho, this system was so new that the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company refused to make a construction loan until full engineering data were submitted, and their own architect was dispatched to Jacksonville to go over the figures. The Forsyth Street facade is faced with polished limestone and terra-cotta, and features broad plate glass “Chicago-style” windows, a copper cornice, and various abstract geometric ornaments. This building is an early example of Klutho’s affinity for the high-rise architectural concepts that were pioneered in Chicago.

Source: Page 60, Jacksonville’s Architectural Heritage Landmarks For The Future, Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission ; written and designed by Wayne W. Wood ; with Stephen Joseph Tool, Jr. and Joel Wright McEachin, research associates ; photography by Judy Davis and David Vedas (1996)

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