Built 1879-81, Demolished 1955
First & Stark Streets
Architect: Warren H. Williams
Built in stages as a collaborative effort by the prosperous Corbett and Failing families, this nearly two hundred foot square architectural and decorative triumph was designed by Warren Williams –accomplished architect of numerous buildings of the time, including the still-standing Merchant Hotel. Willamette Iron Works, owned by Henry Corbett (and part owner of Union Block), provided the remarkable pre-packaged intricate and bold iron work.
Encasing this impressive three story building were 16’ cast iron columns, each with a distinctive head that stopped at the level of the tops of the entry doors. The roof balustrade and pediments were adorned with the initials HF (Henry Failing), flying eagles, and finials. Other ornamentation included distinctive cast iron details such as iron heads within circular frames, pre-cast large window-arch keystones decorated with shells and side scrolls (which appear in several of Williams buildings) as well as very fine arched entries with decorative balconies.Of particular note is the exceptional center medallion that was central to the building façade (see links below).
Although remarkable, many variations of this same work could be found throughout the district on other distinctive buildings designed by Williams, with iron work provided by Willamette Iron Works. With the similar or identical patterns repeating and echoing between the structures along the streets, this only enhanced the sensibility and rhythm of the area that created the cosmopolitan air in Portland that was much talked and written about at the time.
|Medallion from Union Block||same architect: Failing Building||Union Block, 1880|