Okay, so there’s nothing really interesting about this building in terms of news. It’s not for sale, there’s no planned development, it’s not architecturally anything special, no Presidents gave a speech here. It is, however, one of our favorite structures in the city; maybe it’s one of yours too? You’re either going to love it for its gigantic mass and rustic charm or you’re going to hate it for the eyesore that it is. There isn’t much middle ground here. Anyway, on to the building.
The complex is on the corner of Logan Street and Finzer Street one block north of that East Broadway “Bridge” Corridor (that’s poised to take off any time now?) in the Smoketown / Jackson Park neighborhood. It’s hard to miss the thing since it’s so big and sports a chopped off conveyor belt leading some to call it the concrete elephant. It also dramatically terminates the vista of Campbell Street if you’re going South. For the last 35 years or so, its been the home to Herrick Electric Corporation, electrical contractors and electric engine repair.
The building is actually a Trolley Shed in front of a series of grain elevators. The trolley barn stretches the length of an entire city block, and is really the equivalent of Slugger Field before it was a ballpark. The shed is one giant long room with clerestory lights and metal rafters. Inside, the ceiling heights are absolutely huge and the dusty light filtering through the metal trusses into the dark interior create a scene only Piranesi could dream up.
We wanted to go into the silos and check out the spaces inside the concrete towers, but it turns out they are knee deep full of bird crap, dark, and holes are in the floor from when equipment was removed. So we settled for the trolley barn; there are a couple photos of the interior after the click. We’re told, though, that the concrete grain silos are the place to be during a tornado with massively thick concrete walls and floors. It should look quite a bit like the inside of the Ice House Lofts on Main Street. The thing is structurally sound.
What’s so great about the building is the layering of masses and their addition over time. This complex appears to have grown and grown since the 1880s with pieces added here and there and on top of other buildings. The newest part of the building, as far as we can tell, is the orange brick and concrete structure facing Logan Street which was built in the 1940s. A couple of years ago, we were told Logan Street was the new Clifton, but that doesn’t appear to have happened quite yet. When it does, though, Logan and Shelby Streets will serve as a great urban corridor connecting Phoenix Hill and downtown with Germantown and beyond. This property could make one very interesting centerpiece to the entire area. One day.