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Determining the Facts

Reading 2: The Frankish Building--A Symbol of Wealth and Position

The Frankish Building was highly praised when it was built in 1915 by Charles Frankish. It incorporated characteristics of a popular architectural style known as Second Renaissance Revival. That means that the building has some features that were inspired by the Italian Renaissance, including: (1) a facade that is more or less flat with no pronounced projections or recessions; (2) rusticated quoins, or rough-hewn stones that form the angles of the corners of the building; (3) lintels, or horizontal beams that support the area above the windows, which project and are made of smooth stone; (4) plain wooden cornices, or horizontal molded projections at the top of the building on the street sides; and (5) decorative brackets at each corner of the cornice. The corner of the building facing the street was cut off at a 45 degree diagonal, forming an impressively-wide frame for the first floor entry.

The building was constructed of reinforced concrete, precast concrete blocks called art stone, cement plaster, and glazed white brick. Large plate glass windows separated by columns embellished the first floor, which also had a court recess in the rear of the building. This floor was used for commerce, housing various offices through the years. The Charlemagne Apartments located on the second and third stories excited the curiosity of the whole town. Apartments as living places were a fairly new and very urban phenomenon in 1915. The Frankish Building housed 32 units, 16 on each floor, consisting of two to four rooms each. The entrance lobby to the apartments was located at the midpoint on the Transit Street side of the building.

While the decorative design of the building was fairly plain, it was entirely suitable for a structure that served both as a business building and as a residence. Following are excerpts from a 1915 article on Charles Frankish in the Ontario Daily Report:

One of the latest undertakings of the Frankish Company for the promotion of the city's best interests is the erection of the handsome stone, brick and reinforced concrete business block at the southwest corner of Euclid Avenue and Commercial Court [Transit Street] known as the Frankish Building.

The ground floor of this building...will be devoted probably entirely to mercantile or financial establishments, while the second and third floors are being fitted for very high-class and modern living apartments and offices. The central location of this building, together with the beautiful views it commands of the mountains and of City Hall Park, make it particularly desirable for a high-grade apartment house.

Practically the entire work of construction of this handsome building has been under the direct supervision of Mr. Frankish or of his son, Hugh H. Frankish. Nothing but the best of materials have been used and all workmanship has been of the highest quality so that this three-story edifice is quite substantial as it is handsome.

It is the most handsome and substantial business block in the city and it is doubtful if it would be possible to erect one more simply ornate and beautiful....Indeed the exquisite art stone, of which it is largely built was made from their own formula, right on the ground, and might almost be said to be an 'epoch' in the art of stone making....

1. What design components of the Frankish Building identify it as Second Renaissance Revival?

2. What construction materials were used in the Frankish Building?

3. Why do you think the townspeople of Ontario were excited about the building of the Charlemagne Apartments?

4. How does the article from the Ontario Daily Report indicate approval of the new building?

Reading 2 was compiled from Ontario Historic Landmarks Society, The Colony Tour: An Experience of Ontario's Heritage (Ontario, Calif.: ADS, 1991); and Vickie K. Alexander, "Frankish Building" (San Bernardino County, California) National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1979.

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