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The Wright Building, eastern facade - 1997

The Wright Building
Corner of Pine & 8th Street
Architect: Eames and Young

Of the two individual buildings that comprise the Arcade complex, the Wright Building was constructed first. Several years later, the Arcade was built to wrap around it, as seen on the simplified map at left. The Paul Brown Building occupies the rest of the block.

The Wright building is simply designed. Strongly vertical brick piers reflect the obvious influence of the nearby Wainwright Building. Most ornament is concentrated at the cornice and street level. When new, the Wright Building was the tallest building in the city, and was nicknamed the "giant of downtown". Architects Eames and Young are noted for numerous commisions in St. Louis, including Cupples Station downtown and the long-demolished Lincoln Trust and International Life buildings. William Eames also designed the Red Water Tower in the North Side of the city.

Time was not kind to the Wright during the years of its abandonment. Windows were left open, allowing free entry for vandals and the elements. The brick parapet wall was crumbling from water damage. The building's street-level facade was plastered over with "modernizing" slabs, covering most windows and displacing whatever ornament was there.

With the purchase of the building by Pyramid Construction in 2000, the Wright's future seemed brighter. The parapet damage has been repaired; fences blocking off the surrounding streets have come down, and renovation seemed only a matter of time. Pyramid's subsequent collapse in 2007 was a depressing end to the building's latest saga; it remained in limbo in early 2009.

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