#100 305 Essex Street, Lawrence

Old Eagle-Tribune office was built in Italianate Style

Four years ago the people at the Eagle-Tribune gave me a chance to write about architecture in the Merrimack Valley. They didn't know if there would be an audience, or if I could meet deadlines. Nevertheless, they let me try. This column, the 100th, is to thank them for their support and encouragement.

305 Essex Street, at the corner of Lawrence Street, was the offices of the newspapers The Daily Eagle, The Evening Tribune, and the weekly Essex Eagle in 1890. Today the building's brick is exposed, but originally, as seen in the photograph, the brick was stuccoed to resemble cut stone, like buildings you would see in Florence or Rome - in other words, Italianate.

This building was designed to be seen from the street. The cast iron columns on the first floor allow large glass windows so merchants might display their goods to passing shoppers. Those columns, which could be as plain as the concrete filled steel columns in many basements, have bases, edges and flowering capitals, a treat for the pedestrian.
The fire escape becomes part of the ornamentation with its crossed railings. The eaves, embellished with brackets and mouldings signal the top of the office block. There is a 4th floor, but it is invisible to the pedestrian.
As can be seen in the photograph, its dormers are simple, without the variety of pattern seen in the walls of the lower three floors. So the massive eave line becomes the top edge of the building.

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