Erected in 1889, this fine structure clad in reddish stone rode the cusp of architectural evolution from the load-bearing masonry building to the structural steel frame building. Large areas of glass punctuate its eight-story load-bearing exterior walls, while the building’s internal framing consisted of iron posts supporting floors of tile on concrete.
The orthogonal mass of the building shell is softened both by a ninth-floor central gallery and by twin balconies projected over the heavily-columned central front building entrance. But the structure’s most dramatic space was its grand eight-story-high interior light court, roofed in glass and ringed by offices about the building perimeter. For years after its completion, visiting architects, builders and others would marvel at that interior atrium. It has, unfortunately, long since been filled in, and many of the building’s exterior window openings have been bricked down to reduced dimensions.
The Perry Payne Building was built by the prominent railroad executive and lawyer Henry B. Payne, and named for himself and his wife (maiden name: Perry). It initially housed the offices of iron-ore and shipping companies operating throughout the Warehouse District and Cleveland’s Flats. The building is situated in the heart of Cleveland’s downtown, just west of Public Square. It is thus within ready walking distance of Tower City Center, Key Center, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland Browns Stadium and Progressive Field.
Designed by the respected architectural firm of Cudell and Richardson, the building represented a clear advancement of design principles evident in their earlier Cleveland work on the Root & McBride (Bradley) Building on West 6th Street and the Worthington Building on St. Clair Avenue. Left vacant for decades, the Perry Payne Building was renovated in 1995 into more than 90 loft-style apartments under the design guidance of local restoration architects Robert C. Gaede and Jonathan Sandvick.