Award for Adaptive Use

Richardson Building


This three-story Italianate commercial structure, which was built in 1865-72 by brick manufacturer Hiram Richardson, has long anchored the corner of State and Wyman, just west of the Rock River. During its tenure as the home of Wortham’s Department Store, the building’s façade was radically modernized—in 1929 and in 1959—when portions of the facade were covered by a second-story bay and then a shroud of metal panels. At the time the current owners acquired the building in 2003, the upper floors had been vacant for 40 years. As part of a residential loft conversion, the building’s seriously scarred façade was fully restored, including the reconstruction of brick arches, stone sills, and the patterned brick cornice. A more appropriate shed awning was installed at the ground level and insulated glass was installed, wherever possible, in the original wood window frames. Financial assistance came through a local tax increment district and federal tax credits. The owners subsequently compiled an instructional manual, “Downtown Developers Guide,” based on the knowledge they gained through the rehabilitation process. This practical guide has been published by the city’s downtown development organization to promote revitalization of the commercial district.

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