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The Nasby: 1905

Toledo, Ohio, circa 1905. "Nasby Building." An architectural confection needing only a bride and groom stuck on top. Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

Toledo, Ohio, circa 1905. "Nasby Building." An architectural confection needing only a bride and groom stuck on top. Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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Nooks and Crannies

What I wouldn't give to explore the upper parts of this building.

A safer time for bikes

Not a bike lock in sight.

Talk about "remuddled"

They really did a number on that place. Geez.

I'll always know Ohio

by the haze in the air. Ohio, my sinuses salute you!

Two whole floors of dentists!

Over to the right, in the Dollar Savings building. Also, a barbershop in the basement.

What's in a name?

I would bet that during the time the Nasby Building went by that name, it was often called something else that was very similar in sound.


Two more photos.

Toledo's Tallest

The Nasby building was built in 1893. When it was new, it took the phrase "eclectic architecture" to new heights. Its design was a mixture of Romanesque influences, like the arches and elaborate terra cotta decoration, with Spanish elements that made it resemble a wider version of the Giralda tower in Seville. It was also Toledo's first skyscraper. The base of nine stories was topped by a narrower four-story tower. There was a sort of cupola on top of that. It was impressive.

Toledo architect E.O. Fallis, whose Valentine Theater was the subject of a recent post, was the architect. He liked the place so much that he had his offices in the cupola for years. His clients, the Walbridge family, had told him to build something distinctive that would serve as a symbol of Toledo for years to come. To back up the symbolic nature of the idea they named the structure in honor of Petroleum Vesuvius Nasby. Who's that? He was a famous fictional character, the alter ego of Toledo's David Ross Locke.

But the tower started giving them problems. They removed it long ago. Then came the trend toward simple, boring, buildings with blank walls so they covered the whole thing with blank, flat panels. Now it's just another big box.

Still Standing -- But

The Nasby building was constructed between 1891 and 1895 for Horace Walbridge as the tallest skyscraper in Toledo. It was named after the character Petroleum V. Nasby in David Ross Locke’s famous Civil War essays and was modeled after the Giraldo Tower in Seville, Spain. In 1934 the tower top of the Nasby building was removed, supposedly for safety reasons. However, as the building had long since dwarfed the other structures on Madison Avenue, the removal of the tower was largely unnoticed and "unlamented."

In 1964, a steel frame and metal panels were placed over the brick and stone facades and the building was renamed the Madison. Glimpses of the building's beautiful façade can be seen where a few panels have been removed. In 2001, the Madison’s roof was repaired by the city for $205,000 so that continued deterioration would not occur. In 2003, attempts by Detroit developers to convert the building into a $16 million residential, office, and retail center failed. A barbershop is the building's only remaining tenant at present. Many developers stayed away from the site, as renovations were costly and would require rents too high for the area. The market could not afford renovations in 2004, so the city mothballed the structure until the site becomes more desirable through street improvements on Madison Avenue.

-- From Lost and Found: The Process of Historic Preservation in Lucas County, Ohio, a 2004 thesis by Jennifer Michelle Oberlin

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Underground utilities

There seems to be a significant lack of electric poles on the street compared to other photos from the era. The one streetlamp seems to have the wire coming from inside the post.

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