This article is undated, but it was published in April, 1889. The black and white picture was taken at the turn of the century. The other pictures were taken by Tom Riddle in 2010.
THE NEW RIDDLE BLOCK
A SOLID STRUCTURE!
Combining Beauty, Safety and Convenience.
April 1st, 1888, was commenced a work that gave to Ravenna the largest business structure in Portage county, and at the same time the finest and most costly. For one year the laborers were engaged in its construction, and April 1st, 1899, turned over to the owner, Mr. H. W. Riddle, the magnificent edifice which bears his name.
Wednesday evening of last week, being the time selected by the Knights of Pythias for the dedication of their Castle Hall, located on the fourth floor of the building, Mr. Riddle at the same time threw open the entire block to the public, and the brilliantly illuminated interior was soon filled with admiring visitors, inspecting the beautiful finish of its spacious apartments. To those who had never been inside the building, and consequently judged it from external views, the splendidly arranged compartments, complete in every detail essential to metropolitan character, a pleasing surprise must have been afforded—not that its exterior is ordinary— but based upon the supposed requirements of our little municipality. Mr. Riddle never does anything by halves, and he not only purchased the best material for his building and had its every room and department arranged after the most modern and approved plans, but secured contractors and workmen whose reputation and ability would insure the best results in point of durability, style, and artistic embellishments, combined with convenience and safety.
". . . the brilliantly illuminated interior . . . " Looking up at the skylight.
The question has often been asked, “Will it pay Mr. Riddle to build this magnificent city block?” His answer has invariably been that it would not, that he was well aware of this fact before commencing to build, but being a citizen of the town, and this being one of the most prominent corners within its limits, he abhorred even the contemplation of a cheap looking building on this site, and determined to erect a metropolitan structure, that should answer every purpose of business requirements, and give Ravenna a specimen of architecture commensurate with its natural beauties and elevated the standard of future constructions.
Towns are measured by the appearance of their business blocks, and with this thought, in mind, Mr. Riddle has built, regardless of cost, or whether it would pay him two percent on his investment. The building is well made in every way, and will stand for generations as a monument to the enterprise of these public spirited gentlemen whose broad-minded views should be inculcated by all our citizens, in which event Ravenna will attract business firms of a character that will rapidly develop it into a first class city.
The architect of the Riddle block is Willard Bacon, of Boston, Mass. It is a four-story structure, exclusive of basement, fronting on Main and Chestnut streets, and is built of Cleveland pressed brick, over 1,000,000 being required for its completion. The corners are of cut stone, a layer of which lies between each story. At the northwest corner is a handsome tower, while in the center of the building, a gable roof overlooks the entire structure, the balance of the roof being Mansard, with dormer windows.
On the ground floor are eight store rooms, three on Main, and five on Chestnut street, above which are 22 offices, 9 suits of living rooms, three large halls—two Lodge rooms and an elegant dancing hall 42 X 42 with stage and anteroom. The main entrance, on Chestnut Street, is under a large, elegant arch, the entrance itself being of elaborate dimensions and finish, an index to that seen on every side as one progresses on his tour of inspection.
The stairs are wide and roomy, of easy ascent, rendered doubly so by two landings in each flight, making the exertion of climbing them scarcely perceptible.
To the south is another entrance for the use of families occupying rooms above. A. large corridor running through the center of each story makes the office entrance very fine, avoiding any confusion as to their location, and rendering them easy of access.
Each store room is supplied with water closet, and two of these conveniences are located on each upper story, one at either end of the building.
The plumbing throughout the structure is the very best sanitary, recommended by all Boards of Health in cities. It is provided with traps throughout, rendering foul odors impossible, and has been pronounced by experts unexcelled.
There is not a room but what is furnished with a splendid stucco center, and the entire building is piped for gas, and water—hot and cold—and heated with steam. In the various rooms are twenty seven mantels and club grates of improved style and finish, with beveled edge plate looking glass tops, and hearths and facings of very best tile. Everything is complete, even to “dirt chute,” which carries sweepings to the cellar.
Nothing but the very best bronze hinges, knobs and door locks were used, and on the door of each room is a bell.
The windows are all of plate glass, and alone form an item of $4,000.
The floors are all of hard wood—maple, oak, or ash. The first floor joists are made of very best white oak, and will last many scores of years.
The building is so constructed that an elevator can be put in at any time, its plan calling for one, Mr. Riddle, however, deeming it unnecessary for the present.
The pavement in front is of the very best sawed flagging, 9x9, and 6 inches thick, having a width of 18 feet on Main Street, and 14 on Chestnut. Iron hitching posts surround the block at suitable intervals.
The architecture is of Composite order—a combination of various styles.
In fine, the building is a model one in every particular, and would do credit to any city in Northern Ohio, and Ravenna may well take pride in its possession, and honor the man who was willing to invest his money in the erection of such a grand edifice for the adornment of the city that owes so much to him.
The contractors, for the mason work were Messrs. Brigham & Williams, the carpenter work, H. L. Searl; stone work, Stocker & Slaughter. Mr. Riddle speaks very highly of the work done by these gentlemen, in character and promptness, and takes pleasure in recommending them as first class artisans, thoroughly posted in their business. The dedication of the K. P. Hall, in connection with the freedom of the Block, completed by the terpsichorean festivities in the elegant dancing hall, afforded the throngs of visitors an evening of rare enjoyment.