Building 51 | Building 51 | remarkable late 1920’s ornamental cast brass reynolds building otis elevator push button plaque with glass rondel with etched arrow
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remarkable late 1920’s ornamental cast brass reynolds building otis elevator push button plaque with glass rondel with etched arrow



Non-Chicago Artifacts

About This Item

original and largely intact antique american art deco style cast brass reynolds building cast brass push button elevator cab call lobby wall plaque designed and fabricated by the otis elevator company, new york city, ny. the flush mount elevator cab push button plaque features the original bulbous push buttons or knobs with the words “up” and “down.” the plaque contains a unique oversized clear glass rondel with acid etched arrow pointing upward. a glass would have been illuminated from the backside when the car was called. nicely aged surface patina throughout. the art deco style reynolds building, located at 51 e. 4th street in winston-salem, forsyth county, north carolina, was completed in 1929 with 21 floors. when completed as the headquarters of r. j. reynolds tobacco company, it was the tallest building in the united states south of baltimore, maryland, and it won a national architecture award. the building is well known for being a design inspiration for the much larger empire state building that was built in 1931 in new york city. every year the staff of the empire state building sends a father’s day card to the staff at the reynolds building in winston-salem to pay homage to its role as predecessor to the empire state building. the building was designed, just as the empire state building, for the purpose of corporate offices with retail outlets on the first floor. shreve & lamb, the architects, were asked for “an effect of conservatism along with attractiveness, but to avoid flashiness.” but regarding the result, a 1997 winston-salem journal article said, “city residents could be forgiven for wondering whether the architects followed the directive” because “gray-brown marble from missouri, black marble from belgium and buff-colored marble from france covered the walls and floor. the ceiling was festooned with gold leaves, and the grillwork, elevator doors and door frames were bright, gleaming brass. the stock market crash of 1929 hurt the reynolds building’s leasing business temporarily, but it was more successful than other similar buildings at leasing offices. its promotional brochure said that the 14th, 15th, and fourth floors were reserved for doctors and dentists, but this might not have been the case. most of the offices were occupied by organizations related to the tobacco industry, such as railroads, insurance companies, and attorneys. on november 23, 2009 the winston-salem journal reported that reynolds american, inc. put the building up for sale after cutting jobs and moving many offices into the plaza building next door. in march 2013, reynolds american selected cbre to market the building, which the company intended to sell for $15 million. philadelphia-based pmc property group, which renovates historic buildings, and san francisco-based kimpton hotels & restaurants bought the reynolds building for $7.8 million. plans call for “a boutique hotel, restaurant and upscale apartments.”