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The Brotherhood of Trainmen Building, Cleveland, Ohio
Clad in pale Indiana limestone, the 820 Building at 820 Superior Avenue West is also known as The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen Building. The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen was first organized in Peoria, Illinois as a trade union of almost 1800 rail workers in 1883 — a union that grew to encompass over 210,000 members by the 1940s.
The Brotherhood relocated from Peoria to Cleveland by the turn of the 20th Century. To hold its own against the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers — a rival union that had completed its own fine terra-cotta-clad 23-story office structure on the southeast corner of Ontario Street and St. Clair Avenue in 1910 — the union moved forward with plans for its own downtown office structure. Designed by locally renowned architect Charles Schneider, the 820 Building was completed by 1921. It then served as union headquarters until the start of World War I.
The apparent nine-story brick curtain wall structure houses a partially concealed tenth floor of executive offices behind its classically-inspired façades. While the building has long been converted to lease office space, its frescoed lobby ceiling has been restored to its early glory. The architect’s training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris is reflected in the main entrance’s sculpted frieze as well as in other building proportion and detailing. Working with New Yorker George B. Post, Schneider also designed Cleveland’s Hotel Statler, University Circle’s Wade Park Manor and Akron’s Stan Hywet Hall.
Note this finely detailed structure adjacent to the ruddy Perry-Payne Building.