Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Wick Building

Screen capture of artist’s drawing of the proposed Wick Building, The Youngstown Daily Vindicator, November 19, 1908.

I’m sure I walked by the Wick Building (now Wick Tower) numerous times when I was working downtown. It was the building you passed just before Strouss’. I don’t think I gave it much thought. I’m not sure I ever looked up and realized what a tall (for Youngstown) structure it was. Some posts by Charles Curry in the Western Reserve History Group on Facebook called my attention to the beginnings of this building including the Vindicator article from which the graphic above was found.

Aside from a brief mention in an article on the Erie Terminal, I’ve never written on this structure which deserves far more attention than at least I have given it. When it was built, it was the tallest structure in Youngstown at 184 feet and thirteen (not twelve) stories, to be surpassed in 1929 by Central (later Metropolitan and most recently First National) Tower on the Square. It was designed in the style of the Chicago School by one of the most distinguished architects of the time, Daniel Burnham of D. H. Burnham and Company of Chicago. He not only designed buildings all over the country including Marshall Fields in Chicago and the Pennsylvania Station in Pittsburgh, but he was a city planner who developed a plan for Chicago as well as other major cities including San Francisco, Cleveland, and Baltimore. The structure was built with Cambria Steel from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, faced with red brick, and decorated with terra cotta. One of its distinctives is the row of arches above the windows at the crown of the building. The building is registered as of 1980 in the National Registry of Historic Places.

The building was on the site of W. Federal and Phelps, replacing the old building formerly occupied by the Wick National Bank which had been consolidated with the Dollar Savings and Trust, just down the street. The building was purchased by Myron Wick for the Wick Brothers Trust Company, whose money was behind the construction of the new building, including funds from industrialist George Dennick Wick, who perished on the Titanic. The building was the same width as the old but extended 110 feet deep on Phelps. The article announcing the building said no expense would be spared on marble, mahogany woodwork, and ironwork. It would have modern, high-speed elevators and movable partitions on each floor allowing for various office configurations. It was ready for occupancy on April 1, 1910.

The Wick Brothers Trust and other Wick businesses occupied the building for many years. Later on, Wick Brothers became City Trust and Savings Bank, renting out the upper floors to other tenants. The building was sold to Burdman Brothers for $230,000 in 1969. They invested over $1 million in mechanical and interior renovations between 1988 and 1993 anticipating selling the building to Phar-Mor for a headquarters building. Sadly, as Phar-Mor fell into scandal, Burdman Brothers were not able to capitalize on their investment and in the end donated the building as well as a parking lot to the City of Youngstown.

The City of Youngstown managed the property until 2005 despite repeated offers by attorney Percy Squires to purchase the building. Repairs piled up but tenancy rose to 72 percent, helped by several city departments. The city finally sold the building in 2005 to Lou Frangos, a Cleveland developer for $125,000. He had plans to renovate the building at a cost of $13 million for student housing but was unable to secure the needed financing.

In 2012 Dominic Marchionda, representing the NYO Property Group, purchased the building for $150,000 with plans to convert it into 33 apartments and four extended stay suites along with a first floor restaurant. The renovations were completed and the building, re-christened The Wick Tower, was opened in 2015. The building is managed by LY Properties and a visit to the website can give you some sense of the facilities. Sadly, the developer, Dominic Marchionda, has faced numerous legal problems and owes money to the state on various projects including The Wick Tower.

Distinctive architecture. Youngstown’s second tallest building. A connection with one of Youngstown’s leading families. A part of Youngstown’s downtown renaissance. One hopes this 113 year old building, obviously one with good “bones,” will continue to be well-cared for and grace the downtown landscape.

To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Wick Building

  1. When the Burdman Brothers owned the building a small piece of the elaborate terra cotta cornice fell and rather than restoring and repairing the cornice they removed all of the terra cotta and installed flat bricks, which you see today. Also the first floor retail space has been drastically altered which has also severely change Burnham’s design.

    Liked by 1 person

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