Builder J. W. Bass and contractor William G. Clark, who constructed the Lyric Theater (BO2), were responsible for this distinctive building. Even after almost eighty years the sophistication of the two-story facade clad in the then-popular materials of the decade—buff and brown brick, glass, and white glazed terra-cotta ornamented with green and buff terra-cotta insets—is remarkable. The parapet is finished with steps and curves, ball finials, and green terra-cotta swags. A cartouche in the central bay depicts a bas-relief female figure balancing on one foot on a globe and lifting a lighted torch. Rendered in white tile on a green tile background, this representation of the Spirit of Progress (and based on a nineteenth-century statue of the goddess Diana) was a symbol of the Montgomery Ward company, appearing on its storefronts and catalogues. The building is one of the few survivors of the Crooked Creek flood of 1961, although the creek’s waters swept through the store’s back door and carried merchandise out the front. Originally, the single large room of the first floor was divided into several small rooms to showcase furniture in various settings, but the original square stucco-covered steel columns still rise from the first through the second floor.
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Fraley’s Montgomery Ward Building
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