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Commercial Building

Commercial Building

The seven-story Commercial Building was Alexandria’s first “skyscraper.”Despite its continuous use over the years, the well-preserved exterior of this building has changed very little since its construction in 1915. This structure, designed by New Orleans architect W. L. Stevens in the style of Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, was built to house the Commercial Bank and Trust Company. Nicol, Langord and Johnston, a construction firm with home offices in Louisville, Kentucky, executed the construction of this prominent edifice. As typical of early 20th century Chicago style skyscrapers, the base, shaft, and cornice are well articulated, and the skeletal frame and extensive use of plate glass are emphasized in its design, with repeating geometric motifs in the cornice and between the windows, delineating between the third through seventh floors. The bank failed during the Depression in the 1930s and the building was remodeled for a shop in the 1940s. This renovation included the addition of marble facing on the outside and replacement glass. After its renovation the Commercial Building housed a great number of commercial activities, including beauty shops, newsstands, real estate agencies, law offices, dentists, watch repair, physicians, insurance agencies, exterminating companies, and many more. The Commercial Building housed a myriad of local businesses well into the late 20th century, and continues to do so today under the ownership of Michael Jenkins.

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