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Mason Building

Posted January 21, 2015 in Community Featured, Boone, Email blast

During the summer of 2010, a Boone landmark and one of the city’s most historic and architecturally best buildings was razed.  It was as much the victim of old age and neglect as of the devastating fire that destroyed the two buildings to its north in February of 2009.  Even prior to the fire, it was scheduled for demolition.

The onion dome on the Mason Building was removed for scrap during WWII.

The onion dome on the Mason Building was removed for scrap during WWII.

Throughout most of the 20th Century, the building was known as the “Meyers Building” because the Meyers Clothing Store occupied its main floor for many years. More properly, it should be called the “Mason Building”, because that name was carved on four stones weighing some 20,000 pounds at the top of the building’s 8th Street side.

Boone dry goods and wholesale merchants, Clinton Staples and Charles T. T. Mason had constructed the building in the late 19th Century to accommodate several businesses. The brothers arrived in Boone in 1873 from New Hampshire via Chicago and Moingona, where they had first conducted business in Boone County.  Their retail dry goods business was located on the southwest corner of 8th and Story Streets.

The Mason Building was designed by the Des Moines architects Foster and Liebbe, and was constructed “of St. Louis pressed brick and trimmed with a profusion of Missouri red granite the whole forming a contrast and an ornamental effect.” The Mason Building and the Savery Hotel in Des Moines were the only two buildings in Iowa trimmed with this type of granite at the time.

The “area facings to the basement” were “of Van Meter buff brick,” and the basements had “ornamental tile floors” with “walls of Boone hard paving brick.” The building’s oriel window, the first in Boone, extended over the second and third floors.  Art glass accented window transoms and the building’s interiors were of quarter sawn oak and polished cypress.  The double and asbestos paper lined floors were of polished maple with “grooved ends and sides”.  Wall partitions were filled with mineral wool for sound and fire proofing. The structure was heated by steam. A two-story vault was installed towards the rear of the building.

S. W. Wester was the general contractor.  William Palmer did the brick work and George Ernsley of St. Louis the stone work. Construction costs were estimated at $25,000; $20,000 for the building and $5,000 for the store’s fixtures, bathrooms and other equipment.

A picturesque onion dome atop the oriel window dominated the downtown skyline until it was removed for scrap during WWII.   Granite from the building was saved following its demolition and reused in various building projects around Boone, including the kiosk behind the Teddy Roosevelt statue in McHose Park and two entrance signs to Boone on Highway 30.


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