reinforced-concrete frame high-rise office building, the Bisbee Building has more kinship to the Chicago
than the Prairie School. However, this building was of central
importance in introducing the modern architecture of the Midwest
to Jacksonville, which resulted in the city's becoming the Southern
epicenter of the Prairie School.
building was originally constructed to be only twenty-six feet wide
(one-half of its present width) as a
narrow skyscraper ten
stories high, emphasizing its height.
The novelty of its being
Jacksonville's first "skyscraper" made the office space highly sought
after, and the building was completely rented before construction was
finished. Thus the owner, William A. Bisbee, directed the
architect H. J. Klutho to double the size of the building. The
east wall of the original narrow tower was removed and an additional
vertical section was added, resulting in its present
Bisbee Building's ten-story reinforced-concrete
frame was structurally daring for 1908.
Klutho, this system was so new that the Metropolitan Life Insurance
Company refused to make a construction loan until full engineering data
were submitted, and their own architect was dispatched to Jacksonville
to go over the figures.
The first bay was
completed and was fully rented when Mr. Bisbee
Klutho to double the size of the building.
Forsyth Street facade is faced
with polished limestone and terra-cotta, and features broad plate
glass "Chicago-style" windows, a projecting
cornice, and various abstract
geometric ornaments. This building is an early example of
Klutho's affinity for the architectural concepts that were
pioneered in Chicago.
The ornamentation on the Bisbee's
facade is neither Classical nor quite
yet Prairie School, but there are
tentative overtures to Sullivan's foliate designs in the three glazed
terra cotta pier capitals at the ninth-floor level (left) and to
Wright's Larkin Building in the cross motif at the second-story level
(above). Nearly every Prairie style building constructed in
Jacksonville over the next 15 years had some variation of this "Prairie
School cross" motif.