Historic Architecture

Springfield, Ohio is renowned nationwide for its architectural heritage. From commercial and public buildings, to private residences and community parks, Springfield possesses some of the country’s finest examples of many architectural styles including Richardsonian Romanesque, Renaissance Revival and the Italianate style. The entrepreneurs and wealthy business owners that called Springfield home from the 1880’s to the 1930’s left their mark with significant artifacts that are still being enjoyed, and studied, today. Our thanks to Kevin Rose and the Westcott Center for Architecture + Design for the summaries that follow.

Bushnell Building

Address: Main Street
Year Completed: 1893
Architect: Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge

While traveling down Main Street in Springfield, one could hardly miss the intricate roofline and graceful arched windows of the stately Bushnell building, named for Springfield business mogul and politician Asa S. Bushnell. Although it is perhaps most famous for housing Wren’s Department Store, the building originally belonged to one of Springfield’s preeminent citizens and was one of the most important buildings in the city.

The Bushnell building was commissioned by Bushnell in the early 1890s. Bushnell was not only one of the primary members of the famed Springfield firm Warder, Bushnell, & Glessner— the firm that manufactured the Champion Reaper—but also served as Governor of Ohio from 1896-1900.

Among the more striking aspects of the building are the terra-cotta panels with cherubs and swags of fruits and vegetables above the second and third floor windows, as well as the lion heads on the cornice. There are also two stone wreaths flanking the centermost arch, containing Bushnell’s initials and the date of completion.

The Bushnell building remains one of the most impressive original structures to flank the city’s central square. It is a monument not only to the days of booming business in Springfield, but also to the civic involvement of one of Ohio’s great leaders.


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News & Sun Building

Address: Limestone Street
Year Completed: 1929
Architect: Schultze and Weaver

Based on an Italian palace, this brown brick, St. Paul stone, and Indiana limestone building represents the Italian Renaissance Revival style that reemerged as an interest in American architecture beginning the 1890s. The façade of the building with its brilliant design stands as a testament to the cultural and intellectual wealth of Springfield of the early twentieth century. Schultze and Weaver utilized limestone arches to create a stunning façade detailed with Asiatic faces and five decorative relief shields alternating between paired dogs and eagles. The building’s low pitched, hipped, tiled roof and capitals on the top windows support the fundamental nature of the style. Another stunning symbol of this revival style is the roman numerals on the side of the building revealing the dedication date. Other traditional Italian Renaissance Revival elements include a horizontal emphasis, arched openings, and striking ornamental structure.

The building was occupied by two different newspapers: the Springfield Daily News Building and the Springfield Sun. They later merged to form the Springfield News-Sun.  Former president of the United States Calvin Coolidge started the presses in the new building by pushing a button from his Massachusetts home on October 19, 1929, just ten days before the infamous Black Tuesday.

Warder Free Library

Address: High Street
Year Completed: 1890
Architect: Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge

With their design for The Warder Library,  Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge sought to utilize preeminent American architect Henry Hobson Richardson’s signature design elements, such as tripartite arches, mixed, rough-stone construction, and foliate stone ornamentation, so that the building might be worthy of the praise that became synonymous with the Richardsonian style.

In addition to the building’s stately appearance, some of the most striking elements are the intricately carved creatures and leafy designs encrusting the structure. Among them are over twenty different stone heads incorporated into the design, as well as a number of symbolic presences: a large owl perched to overlook Spring Street (signifying wisdom) and tiny monkeys hidden in the capitals of the porch columns (signifying curiosity). In addition, there is a variety of non-repeating ornamentation, most noticeably the differences between the capitals of the four porch columns.

Springfield Post Office

Address: Limestone Street
Year Completed: 1932
Architect: William K. Shilling

Bold and monolithic, the Springfield Post Office is the landmark building of Limestone Street. Strikingly unusual in design, the golden-buff colored building has some of the most perplexing decorative elements of any building in the city.

In addition to the unusual color of the Post Office, the pair of eighteen-foot stone-cut eagles perched atop the corners of the building invokes a spirit of American majesty to the city’s center of correspondence.

The finer artistic details of the structure reveal themselves more subtly. Above the recessed doors of the tripartite entrance are three beautiful satin-finish aluminum relief panels: the northernmost interprets the seal for the state of Ohio; the central relief symbolizes the federal government; and the southernmost represents the city of Springfield. Together these panels symbolize the scale and context of the United States Postal System. In addition, high above the relief panels are carved-stone depictions of a ship, a plane, and a train, all of which represent the ways in which mail is transported in the United States.

The Westcott House

Address: High Street
Year Completed: 1908
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright

The Westcott House, the product of arguably the most important architect of the modern era, was designed in 1906 and built in 1908. It not only embodies Frank Lloyd Wright's innovative Prairie School architectural design but also extended Wright's concept of relating the building to its site by means of a terrace, a lily pond, gardens, and other landscape elements. An extensive pergola capped with an intricate wooden trellis connected the detached garage to the main house, a design element included in only a few other Prairie Style houses.

Through the cooperative efforts of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and the Westcott House Foundation, today the Westcott House is an important rediscovery, a notable, newly-unearthed and revitalized example of Wright's legacy, and one of the finest Wright house museums in the country.

Tours of the house are offered daily. The Westcott complex consists of the main house, garage, pergola and perennial gardens. Admission fee includes a 1-hour docent guided tour and a short documentary on the restoration process.

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