American Brake Company

North Broadway never fails to continue to fascinate me. Who would think a bunch of old warehouses and factories would have so much history? They do, obviously. Take the old American Brake Company’s buildings, which sit at Tyler Street.

The first building built by the revolutionary company, which designed brakes for freight trains, not for automobiles. The first portion, which I describe as Renaissance Revival, was built in 1901. Note the similarity in some ways to the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

There might be some renovations going on, and the building is on the National Register of Historic Places; you can read the nomination here.

It’s not very common anymore, but you can even see the cross streets in terracotta on the side of the building.

The Tyler Street elevation shows how much care architects Weber and Groves went into the design on the less prominent side of the building. North Broadway is obviously heavily trafficked, then and now, but less so on Tyler.

The building is also a masterful example of the use of decorative terracotta.

The building stretches far back on the block, all the way back to some train tracks that once ran along the North Second Street right-of-way.

A second addition followed on the south along Broadway in 1910, and then another followed in 1919 designed by the famed firm of Eames and Young to the east.

A postcard from the time shows a similar view with the original windows intact.

Below, here is a detail of the addition to the south. It shows the dramatic change in industrial architecture in the first decade of the Twentieth Century.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Mike Matney says:

    I’ll have to watch for this building next time I drive through there.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      It’s a very cool building, and worth taking a look.

  2. David says:

    If you turn east on Tyler a couple of blocks from Broadway is the building that housed the old Dan Hamm Drayage. It’s the company founded and named after local celebrity Jon Hamm’s dad.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Oooh, I’ll have to check that out! Thank you!

  3. Tom Bartholow says:

    It would be nice to see how the entry appeared preglass block. Maybe someone will turn up with an old postcard or a piece of the company’s letterhead that reveals that obscured entry.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Found a small image from a postcard; just added it to the post. Not a great view, but a little bit of an idea

      1. Tom Bartholow says:

        Thanks. Glad you found it and added it. Still pretty hard to see just how that entry presented itself.

  4. Matt Chapman says:

    Chris, were you aware of a project to renovate this building and move in a gaming company from the suburbs?

    I’ve driven by the building many times recently and there’s a Blackline Construction sign on the back fence, but that’s all the activity I’ve seen so far. I sure hope they haven’t dropped the project.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      There has been little movement on the project, as far as I can tell.

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