Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stambaugh Building

With the current controversy regarding the future of the Stambaugh building, I thought I would post some of my own comments.

The eight story Stambaugh Building was built in 1906. Shortly thereafter firms such as Youngstown Sheet and Tub and Brier Hill Iron & Coal Co. established their corproate headquarters inside. In 1913 the growth of Youngstown Sheet and Tube required that four additional stories be added to the building, bringing the height to 12 stories. Over the years YS&T slowly occupied most of the space in the building, including Brier Hill's space after YS&T acquired Brier Hill Steel in 1923.

The building was designed by Albert Kahn, one of Detroit’s most important architects. It was designed in the Neo-Classical Revival style. In the early 1960s YS&T decided to construct a new corporate office and laboratory in Boardman, OH, and in 1964 moved their corporate HQ from the Stambaugh Building. Once YS&T vacated the building Standard Slag relocated their corporate offices to the structure. In 1982 the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From the building's construction in 1906 until vacated by YS&T in 1964, this building bore witness to the growth of what was to become the Nation's third largest steelmaker. In 1906 YS&T was a small producer of wrought iron sheet and pipe. Their first blast furnaces and Bessemer converters were then under construction. Led by James A. Campbell, Sheet and Tube would expand by leaps and bounds until it had become a major producer of steel products.

Meanwhile, just a block away in a similar skyscraper off of Market Street bridge was the corporate office of Republic Steel Corporation, also one of the largest steel companies in the US. Republic moved to Cleveland in 1935, but in those years when both Republic and YS&T were both located in Youngstown, the decisions made in those two buildings shaped a good part of the development of America's steel industry.

Now a Cleveland developer named Lou Frangos has purchased the Stambaugh Building, and through a very shortsighted maneuver, has removed most of the windows on the west facade. He claims that the windows were unsafe, however a much more measured approach of inspecting the windows and removal of those in most danger of failing would have been a more appropriate response. Now several hundred openings exist in the building, and one heavy storm may cause untold amounts of water damage to the interior. At the very least a building permit was required, but was not obtained.

Fortunately the leadership of the City of Youngstown is not blind to this issue, and is aggressively pursuing Mr. Frangos to ascertain his intentions. The City's immediate goal is to make sure the building is secured, possibly through boarding up the openings with plywood. However they have stated that a longer term strategy for window replacement will be required of Mr. Frangos.

Nobody in Youngstown wants to see one of our landmark buildings fall into disrepair in the midst of our downtown's rennaissance. I am especially concerned that one of the last tangible pieces of our city's own homegrown steel company is being treated with such disrespect. Slowly the industrial landmarks that once defined this Valley, and brought worldwide attention to our community, are being removed forever. Let's not stand idly by while the Stambaugh Building languishes in its hour of greatest need.

1 comment:

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