City Hall and American Insurance Union Citadel   Save
City Hall and American Insurance Union Citadel
Description: This photograph shows a view of the Columbus City Hall as seen from Marconi Boulevard with the American Insurance Union Citadel (now LeVeque Tower) behind. The City Hall, located 90 West Broad Street, bounded by Gay, Front, and Broad Sts., and Riverside Drive, occupies, with its park, and entire block in the heart of the civic center. The 5-story structure of Indiana limestone, in Greco-Roman style, was designed by the Allied Architects Association of Columbus and cost $1,700,000. Three of the four sections of the building, which surround a court, were completed in 1928, and the fourth was dedicated in 1936. The hall houses various municipal departments and contains a city council chamber that originally sat more than 400 people. At night multi-colored lights played upon a fountain before the Broad Street entrance. The American Insurance Union Citadel, located at 50 West Broad Street at the corner of Front Street, was designed by architect C. Howard Crane in the Art Deco style with touches of a more modern version of the Byzantine. The 47-story tall skyscraper, designed mainly as office space, rises to an elevation of 555.5 feet, and was built to be 6 inches taller than the Washington Monument. Two 18-story wings flank the building; on the east, the 4,000 seat Keith-Albee Theater (now the Palace Theater), and on the west the 600 room Deshler-Wallick Hotel. The steel-frame building, completed in 1927 at a cost of $7,800,000, was the first building in Ohio to be erected on a caisson foundation. It was the fifth tallest building in the world for a time, and the tallest building in the city until 1974. Faced with cream colored, oak bark textured terra-cotta, AIU Citadel, as it was known, bears huge ornamentations of the same material on the tower. Four large eagles, with a wing span of 22 feet stood sentry on the 36th floor, at each of the four corners, but have since been removed. A 26 foot high bearded giant embracing two children could be found on each side at the 40th floor, but were removed by Mr. LeVeque to allow for a view from his office. The spaces left by the departed sculpture serve as the bases for lights used to illuminate the tower. These and other exterior ornamentations were executed by Fritz Albert, of Chicago, from models by Carl H. Keck, New York sculptor, including the helmeted guardians below the dome topped balistraria. Throughout the building’s history praise has been give for the bright and elaborate lighting of its tower. It was known as "the first aerial lighthouse" as signal lights on the four turrets of the tower served as beacons in the night for aviators. Since the 1980s the tower has had the capability of being lit in a variety of colors. It is normally lit in white, but color is added frequently for special occasion. An observation deck was operated through the 1960s where visitors could travel to the top of the tower for a small fee. The deck was closed with the addition of antennas to the top of the tower and the space was converted into a luxury penthouse apartment. The public areas of the interior are made of Belgian and Italian marbles, bronze and mosaics were used extensively throughout. In the marble floor of the lobby is a bronze plaque bearing the horoscope of the building, which shows the position of the planets when the cornerstone of the building was laid, February 13, 1926. The Hall of Mirrors, on the second floor, is an outstanding show place. Its large, gold-tinted mirrors, inlaid with panel work, vaulted ceiling, and other features were copied from the original Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles. Due to the Great Depression the American Insurance Union went bankrupt, and sold the building. The tower was purchased by John Lincoln and Leslie L. LeVeque in 1945. LeVeque was the designer of an automatic pinsetter for bowling which became known as the Columbus pinsetter. The Lincoln-LeVeque Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and in 1977, the name was officially changed to the LeVeque Tower. The building changed hands to Lennar Properties in 2004, and then again to the new owners Finsilver/Friedman Management, a Michigan based regional developer and property manager. View on Ohio Memory.
Image ID: SA1039AV_B05F04A_002
Subjects: Columbus (Ohio)--Buildings, structures, etc.--Pictorial works; Municipal buildings--United States; City halls--United States; Allied Architects Association (Columbus, Ohio); Theaters--Ohio--Columbus--History; Leveque Tower (Columbus, Ohio); Crane, C. Howard (Charles Howard), 1885-1952; National Register of Historic Places
Places: Columbus (Ohio); Franklin County (Ohio)