Historic Structures

William Reid and Company Building (Buck!and-Van Wald Building), Detroit Michigan

Date added: October 18, 2013 Categories: Michigan Commercial Richardsonian Romanesque

The William Reid & Company Building is an example of the commercial architecture of Gordon W. Lloyd, completed toward the end of his distinguished career. Lloyd was a major designer of churches, private residences, and commercial buildings in Detroit, with a career extending from 1861 to the early 1890s. The original owner, William Reid, a prominent Detroit merchant in plate glass trade, used this building for wholesaling in 1890-1906,

The William Reid & Company Building, designed in 1890 by Gordon W. Lloyd at the request of David Whitney, Jr., is a five-story, partially asymmetrical, wood~and-masonry structure. Only the eastern section of the building is the original Lloyd construction; a fire destroyed the western portion rented by Reid in March, 1892. Reconstructed afterwards, the western half is stylistically compatible with the original structure on the east, although there are obvious differences, such as the addition of a mezzanine on the newer side. The architect of the re-built western building is not known, but it is possible that Gordon Lloyd was involved.

Each of the two sections measures 48 feet wide and 122 feet deep. The facades of the west, north, and east are completely unadorned dark brown brick, with the northern facade having the only fenestration. The main (south) facade along West Larned is composed of reddish brick and sandstone. In the 1890 building, Lloyd employed cast iron in the few narrow posts that accent the window sections on the first floor. The arched windows on the fourth floor and fifth levels and the textured use of brick throughout give the structure a decidedly Romanesque quality. Six flat piers extend from the street level to the roofline of the building, dividing the structure into five bay sections - two on the original eastern side and three on the western segment. The piers are broken at the top of the third story by stylized capitals, each of which is linked to the others by a string of small dentils. The columns then continue along the fourth and fifth levels, ending in an entablature which features dentils and a balustrade.

Lloyd designed the bay sections with generous amounts of window space which would allow large amounts of natural light to reach the interior of the building. Window treatment on the second and third floors consist of pairs of sashed windows. A single pair of such windows fills each of the three bays on the western half of the building, while two pairs per bay section are used in the eastern half. On the fourth story, a single arched window, each subdivided into six sections, occupy each of the three western bays, while two such windows are employed for each of the two eastern bays. And at the fifth story, each of the three bays on the western side has two modestly arched windows, while each of the two bays on the eastern side has three. The three easternmost arched windows on the fifth level were bricked up in 1948.

Apart from moldings on the first-floor ceiling and cornice, the interior of the building is plainly utilitarian. Despite the generous use of windows on the south and north, by modern standards the interior would have been dimly lit were electrical lighting not available. The west and east walls, as well as the party wall dividing the two building segments, are load-bearing brick masonry, while the interior structural support system is clearly visible. On the second through the fifth floors, it consists of heavy wooden beams and columns, with columns decreasing in cross section from 11 X 13 inches on the second floor to 7 1/4 X 5 1/4 inches on the sixth floor. Cast iron columns are present only on the first floor and in the basement. The supporting columns are spaced and arranged in different patterns in the two building segments. In the eastern half, a single row of columns extend the length of the building, midway between the two brick walls, creating usable floor space 23 feet wide on either side. On the western side, pairs of columns extend the length of the building, creating three bays 15 feet 6 inches wide. Freight elevators and stairwells are located at -the rear of both sections of the building. A stairwell located at the front of the western half features a skylight. The flat roof of the entire building slopes toward the rear of the structure; the ceilings on the fifth floor are 15 feet 8 inches high on the Larned side and only 8 feet & inches high at the rear of the building.