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Paul Brown Building
9th Street between Olive and Pine
Architect: Preston Bradshaw
Completed: 1926

The Paul Brown fills the west end of the block occupied by the Arcade and Wright. In some ways it is the most attractive of the three. Its decor and proportions seem the most carefully considered, and the most successful. Like its neighbors to the east, it has beautiful entryways and lavish yet tastefully restrained trim. And unlike the Arcade and Wright, its street-level storefronts on all three sides survive in their original configuration.

Photos this page from 1997.

The Paul Brown's west facade, seen from Pine Street.

Lacey ornament surrounding the north entrance on Pine Street.

An L-shaped barrel-vaulted corridor with plaster coffers forms the building's public lobby.

The Paul Brown's north facade, seen from Olive Street. The Arcade Building stands at left, the Frisco at right.

Trim at street level. The green awnings were removed years ago.

The Paul Brown calls to mind some of the qualities that made Louis Sullivan's buildings so exceptional. Among these are ornamentation that does not call attention to itself, but upon close inspection is esquisitely detailed. These decorative elements read differently from a distance than they do up close -- but in both cases are a pleasure to behold.

The fabulously ornate street-level entrance arcade was carefully restored 15 years ago, and remained open into the 1990s. But the rest of the building stood vacant and for sale during most of the 1990s, its future uncertain. In what would have been an urban travesty even worse than the demolition of the Century building, one proposal called for leveling the entire block to put up a parking garage. Fortunately, this never happened, and today the building stands freshly renovated.

The Paul Brown is constructed in two portions of different heights. The first-floor tenants of the previous building on the site, the Oddfellows Building, refused to vacate. As a compromise, their building was demolished down to the first floor and the Paul Brown's northern half built on its foundations. The southern half was free to rise a full 16 stories.

With the restoration of glass storefronts, the old granite columns of the Oddfellows Building can once again be seen at the corner of Olive and 9th.

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