History & Tourism

Landmarks of Mansfield: Walpark Building

17 Nov , 2020  

By 1812Blockhouse

The Walpark Building at 13 Park Avenue West occupies a unique location in the history of Mansfield.

In 1858, the City of Mansfield – which had become a city from a village just a year earlier – erected a City Hall and market building at the southeast corner of Market (now Park Avenue West) and Walnut Streets. The lot was purchased for $1,500 (an amount which the City actually had to borrow), and the structure cost some $10,000 to construct.

In 1922, the former City Hall was sold to the Walpark Building Company for the sum of $87,000.

The new building was constructed during a decade when downtown Mansfield was transformed through numerous projects – including the Farmers Bank Building, the Ohio (now the Renaissance) Theatre, and the Richland Bank Building. Contractor for the Walpark was Mansfielder Simon Small, who had previously remodeled the Richland County Courthouse in the late 1890s, and who had built several local factories.

When it opened on May 15, 1926, a headline in the News-Journal shared, “Walpark Building Marks New Era Of Building in City’s Business District.” Work included “several cave-ins and other slight casualties.”

Like the other buildings referred to above, the Walpark Building reflects Neoclassical and Chicago Commercial influences. While the first floor features stone facing, the structure is crowned by a wide cornice with heavy ornamentation.

From the beginning, the six story building was home to multiple businesses. Those included the JCPenney Co., numerous professional offices, and offices of Richland County. The new offices of architect Vernon Redding were on the sixth floor, and the JC Penney Company occupied 16,000 square feet in the first floor and basement.

Perhaps the most ambitious period in the history of the Walpark Building took place when the property was acquired by the Stewart Root Beer Company, and re-named Stewart Towers. Plans called for the creation of a shopping plaza and a separate 15 story addition. What was executed was the new Stewarts Cafeteria, which took some $200,000 to create. The cafeteria could accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 patrons per day, and had some 2,000 selections of quality food and drink.

The Walpark Building is now known as Barrington One Building.

Photo: Creative Commons License

 

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