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Trust Building (Michigan Trust Company Building)

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Michigan Trust Company Building
1891–1892, Solon S. Beman; 1913, 1920s additions, Henry Crowe. 40 Pearl St. NW
  • (Photograph by Catherine Boland Erkkila)
  • (Photograph by Catherine Boland Erkkila)

This early office skyscraper marked Grand Rapids as the financial center of outstate Michigan. Anton G. Hodenpyl, Lewis H. Withey, Willard Barnhart, Darwin D. Cody, and other Grand Rapids and western Michigan businessmen organized the Michigan Trust Company in 1889 and built the bank and office building two years later. The building is a major Michigan work of Chicago architect Beman. It resembles his Pioneer Press Building of 1888–1889 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The Richardsonian Romanesque building rises in four stages to a flat roof, its windows decreasing in size within their round-arched groupings as they progress upward from the huge round-arched openings of the rusticated coursed sandstone base. To protect against fire, the steel and iron frame is sheathed with fire tiles, floors are constructed of hollow tile and concrete, and exterior walls are clad in red sandstone, brick, and terra-cotta. Historian Leonard K. Eaton (in correspondence with the author) has discovered that “it [the Trust Building] is one of several buildings across the country which are variants on Root's Rookery (Chicago, 1884).” In 1913 two ten-story sections were added to the rear, and in the 1920s, the eleventh floor was added.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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