Explore N. Superior Street

Momentum 2023

Explore Downtown Toledo

Arts Commission Momentum Spaces on North Superior Street 

Between Madison Ave. and Adams St.

According to the recent National Register nomination, this block of North Superior Street is an extension of the Madison Avenue Historic District that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It represents the evolution of the smaller-scale urban structures that accompanied the development of the larger "skyscrapers" lining Madison Avenue. Erected between the 1880s and 1920s, this block of North Superior Street included clothing and jewelry stores, mid-size banks and savings and loan institutions, printing shops, an interurban rail stop, and a couple of saloons. All but three buildings in this block were designed by the firm of George S. Mills and its successor firm of Mills, Rhines, Bellman & Nordhoff.

The Gardner Building500 Madison Avenue (The Gardner Building): The Gardner Building. Charles Gardner, a well-read man, and an extensive traveler designed this office building on the site of his family's homestead. Gardner served as the primary architect, drawing on his knowledge of Italian Renaissance architecture. The building, with its block shape, rusticated first-floor stonework, and its classical details, shares a similar style with the Strozzi Palace in Florence, Italy. Constructed of reinforced concrete, the structure was one of the first to employ this experimental technique that strengthened buildings and made them more fire-resistant. It's designated as a civil engineering landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Owned by the Gardner family until 1969, the building was threatened with demolition in 1986. At that time, the Landmarks Preservation Council of Northwest Ohio helped pass legislation to prohibit demolition within downtown Toledo until a comprehensive study could be undertaken. The property was subsequently acquired by the Gardner Restoration Committee and rehabilitated.

Here's a fun fact. In 1901, the Gardner Building served as the home of the Toledo Museum of Art.

319 and 321 North Superior Street: Built in 1907, this building was once home to Rupp & Bowman, a prominent retail and wholesale pharmacy business.

331 North Superior Street: According to the Toledo City Historic District Commission, this building was designed by architecture firm Mills, Rhine, Bellman, and Nordhoff for the Rathbun Realty Company who developed the property as a business venture for the robust economy in Toledo, Ohio in 1917.  The building faces southeasterly and is supported by steel framing with glass, granite, and limestone facade.  A new façade was created in 1928 by the same architecture firm.  Flanked by four to six story masonry structures, only the front façade and rear elevation are visible.  The exterior appearance has remained unchanged since 1928.  The front façade reveals an architecturally design with straight lines reflective of Art Deco styling on the first floor.  The first floor is the product of the 1928 façade renovation and is faced in light gray Indiana limestone and features a wide, double-door entrance that is recessed and centered on the front of the building.  Recessed black granite surrounds the main entrance with flanking black granite panels on both sides of the front door.

The Rathbun Realty owned and leased the structure from 1916 to 1974.  The building opened in 1917 as the Isenberg Brothers Jewelers and Tailors under the proprietorship of Moses Isenberg.  The firm occupied the building until 1928 when another firm of Hoffmann-Thomas, an exclusive men’s clothing store, opened at this address.  William Hoffman and Bernard Thomas were the dealers for the select and high-quality Hart, Schaffner, & Marx clothing line that was founded in Chicago in 1887.  Hart, Schaffner & Marx rapidly moved to establish a national market including this store in Toledo.  The façade renovation from 1928 was due to the need to display the clothing and the relief carvings of the Hart, Schaffner, & Marx logo on the exterior remain there today.

The building was used as either a jeweler or clothing retail store from 1916 to 1970’s with additional retail uses until Leo’s Bookstore opened in 1999 and closed in 2009.