Janesville’s earliest and most prestigious downtown area developed on the east side of Rock River. But as the city grew in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, commercial development spilled over onto the west bank and continued to grow until the onset of the Great Depression. One of the last buildings constructed during this period of growth was also one of the largest. The six-story Art Deco Monterey Hotel is notable for its terra-cotta ornament. Horizontal bands of black terra-cotta tiles, trimmed with gold stripes, diamonds, and zigzags, frame the first story. Tiles layered in a stepped-back pattern embellish the main entrance, leading the eye upward. Above the entrance, and at the building’s corners, rise paired columns of windows, linked by decorative terra-cotta spandrels. But the most dazzling terra-cotta work unfolds at the building’s top. Here, each column of windows explodes into inverted ziggurat motifs, garnished with stylized shells, scrolls, and plumes. The hotel’s corner tower, in particular, is encrusted with terra-cotta details, formidable deep-set niches, and a jagged crenellated parapet.
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