Knapp Company Building
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Knapp, J. W., Company Building
300 South Washington Avenue, Lansing - Ingham County
Other Names Knapp's Office Center
Property Type concrete block building
Style Modern Movement
Narrative Description The J. W. Knapp Company Building is located at the corner of South Washington Avenue and West Washtenaw Street. Constructed in 1937 to 1938 and enlarged at its west end in 1949, Knapp's is a five-story, rectangular structure with a rounded front corner. Its exterior is Art-Moderne in style. The store's facade consists mainly of bands of yellow macotta (a concrete block with an enamelled metal finish) wall surfaces and glassblock windows interrupted by vertical, window-pierced, blue macotta pylons pushing up from the store's four principal entrances. The entrance portals, the first-floor shop window aprons, and the facade's ornamental ribbon-banding are all faced in dark blue macotta. The spandrels in the entrance pylons are red, blue, and yellow; the lower set of spandrels all have the Knapp's "K" incorporated into their design.
Statement of Significance Designed by Orlie A. Munson of the Bowd-Munson Company, the large, polychromatic, enameled, metal-paneled J. W. Knapp Company Building is one of the finest intact examples of a streamlined Art-Moderne-style commercial building in the Midwest. It is remarkable-for its size, the machine-like clarity of its horizontal design, and its brilliant colors. The building takes on added significance as an example of a type of streamline technology more commonly identified with factory-produced objects such as railroad locomotives, automobiles, decorative objects, and pre-built diners. It is a landmark in the progress of the modern movement in architecture in Michigan. The J. W. Knapp Company originated in 1896 as the Jewett and Knapp dry goods store, founded by Joseph W. Knapp, a former carpet salesman, and two other partners. Sold to L. S. Good & Company of Wheeling, West Virginia in 1970, the store was caught up in the financial difficulties of the parent firm and closed at the end of the day on Saturday, October 13, 1980. The structure now accomodates a combination of small shops and office space.
Period of Significance 1931-1945
Significant Date(s) 1937, 1938, 1949, 1980
Registry Type(s) 05/21/1983 National Register listed
Site ID# P23370