Monday, July 6, 2009

The Historic Patterson Block, Muncie

News was just posted last week that the Patterson Block, located at the intersection of Main and Walnut streets in downtown Muncie, Indiana will house Ivy Tech students in the hospitality and culinary program this fall. Ivy Tech faculty member Heather Pier cites their interest in "using existing buildings to help revitalize downtown." This is certainly a positive development for one of Muncie’s finest examples of late 19th century commercial architecture.

Built in 1876 by Arthur F. Patterson, one of Muncie’s wealthiest and best-known businessmen of the time, the Italianate style Patterson Block is a three-story rectangular block, constructed of brick, with a clipped corner in its northwest quadrant. It was built in two stages, with the original structure being the first three bays of storefronts to the south along Walnut Street. The second section, begun in 1881, introduced four additional bays to the Walnut Street fa├žade. Fine craftsmanship and detailing is evident throughout the building, particularly in the window treatment of the upper two stories and the massive, bracketed cornice.

The seven storefronts have held a succession of businesses, typically florists, jewelers, confectionaries, clothing stores, groceries, and drug stores. The building is also noted for housing a few local “firsts” -- the first local telephone exchange and the first Muncie police station. You can see some of the early tenant listings on this Sanborn map from 1887:

The Drawings and Documents Archive has numerous items in its collections relating to the Patterson Block. The architecture firm Garrard & Keely, formerly known as Kibele & Garrard, created drawings in the 1930s that envisioned renovations for the building which were never realized.

There were efforts to modernize the building between the 1940s and 1960s, which resulted in the concealment of the original cast-iron columns and entablature. An image from 1968 depicts the changes in the building facade:
The Archive has the restoration feasibility study created in 1982 that proposes a rehab sympathetic to the original structure. A few years later, students involved in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Historic American Buildings Survey project, conducted the field work and created an official HABS drawing.

Both the field notebook and the HABS drawings, as well as the other material mentioned, are available for viewing in the Archive. For an appointment, call Carol Street, archivist for architectural records, at 765-285-8441. The current photo of the Patterson Block is courtesy of

Pages from the HABS field notebook:

1 comment:

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