Monday, September 10, 2012

Eagles Building Then & Now

I've admired the Eagles Building ever since I picked up this vintage postcard (postmarked 1926) at a local flea market back in the 1990s.

May 1946 Lorain Journal ad
The Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie No. 343 was the primary tenant of the building originally. It was designed by a local architect and constructed in 1918 as a one-story structure, with three stories added in 1924.

The building, one of the tallest in Downtown Lorain, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is in the Second Renaissance Revival style. It contains a beautiful ballroom, complete with a stage and dressing rooms. The building is recognized for being the first commercial structure in the Lorain area to utilize a reinforced concrete frame. This structural decision was due to the shortage of domestic steel shortly after World War I.

J.C. Penney was one of the earliest commercial tenants of the Eagles Building, showing up in the city directories around 1926 and lasting into the early 1930s. The Deutschof showed up as a new tenant in the 1930s, joined by Hart Jewelry in the early 1940s in the other storefront space.

A 1977 view
A 1942 city directory listing showed a variety of organizations were also based in the building. In addition to the Eagles Lorain Aerie No. 343, the groups included the Steel City Chapter (Order of DeMolay), the Typographical Union Local No. 409, the Woodland Lodge No. 223 (Knights of Pythias), the Licensed Tugmen's Protective Association No. 29, the Shipyard Union No. 358 and the Rainbow Girls.

Cane's Surplus, a traditional Army & Navy goods store featuring military goods and camping equipment moved in around 1960.

Sadly, the Eagles club closed in 1984, and Harts was gone by 1987. The Lorain County Central Office of Alcoholic's Anonymous then took over the jewelry store space for many years. Cane's lasted until the owner retired due to poor health in 1999. Eagles Nest Nite Club moved into one of the upstairs floors about this time, maintaining a link to the building's heritage.

Currently a night club called Boat House II is in the old Cane's space.

And here's my "now" shot from this past weekend. The Eagles Building is still an impressive structure.


LCrnobrnja said...

This building would make a great location for a restaurant. People still need to eat and that would be a great draw to the downtown area.

Dan Brady said...

I agree, people may cut back on a lot of things, but not when it comes to going out to eat. Even in the worst economy, restaurants are jammed.

I do think that Downtown Lorain eateries/bars/coffee shops have to be more aggressive in advertising and in making sure that potential patrons feel that they could find safe, secure parking nearby. That's always a consideration when I want to try something "new."

Another thought--in the old days, restaurants bought huge, full-page ads in the newspaper to promote their openings, and after that still bought ads to make sure people knew they were there. (My blog is loaded with those vintage ads.) But it seems that large, regularly appearing easy-to-read ads are a thing of the past. Now all you see are tiny, hard-to-read ads that don't tell you very much--that is, if you see an ad at all. I would advise any new Lorain restaurant owner to spend the money on advertising--newspaper AND direct mail. Coupons work!!

Me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

There used to be a decent restaurant there when they did the 'dinner & comedy show' promo. That building could be so much more than what it is. With the available auditoriums & stage spaces upstairs, plus the view from the upper floors, it should be "the" place to have a wedding reception (or other large gathering). Ever see the swashbuckler in the stairwell?

Maybe we could get Gordon Ramsay to come in and remake it for us ;-)

Anonymous said...

I thought the Palace Civic Center was planning to purchase this building,connecting the two properties, creating an Arts/Music/Drama Center to jump-start new interest in downtown. I seem to remember the State of Ohio granting some seed money.

Debra Jane Seltzer (aka agilitynut) said...

Do you know when the "Eagle's Nest" sign on the building was built? It appears to be from the 1930s or 1940s:

Dan Brady said...

Hi Debra Jane,

I've wondered about that myself and more or less assumed the old sign was retrofitted for the night club. I'll see if I can find out for you.

By the way, your roadside architecture website
is one of my all-time favorite websites. It's not only a great and fascinating historical reference but a lot of fun to look at as well.