When Charles Walch closed the Boston Café, former employee Chris Streng, whose fancy desserts delighted Sedalians, went into business for himself. He built what was called a “business block” at 700, 702, and 704 S. Ohio Ave. and in 1905 opened his own bakery and became a landlord.
A business block was a common type of building in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A businessman would build a large building with space for several stores on the first floor, and office spaces or apartments on the second floor. The building owner could occupy one or more first-story storefronts and perhaps live in an upstairs apartment, and offset the cost of the building by renting out any other storefronts, the office spaces, or any remaining upstairs apartments.
Streng’s building contained three storefronts on the east side of the building facing South Ohio Avenue and another on the north façade of the building facing West Seventh Street. Each of the Ohio Avenue storefronts had a door leading into the store and a second door leading to its upstairs apartment. The building took advantage of the recently developed technology that enabled large sheets of plate glass to be made and used for display windows. Above the display windows are obscure glass transoms that provide extra light to the interior of the building.
Streng’s building used several decorative building techniques typical of early twentieth century buildings. The building was built of red brick accented with patterned brickwork and limestone elements that gave texture to the walls and extended above the roof line.
The Ohio Street façade of the building was the most decorative. Its storefronts were delineated by four brick pilasters, or columns that lie flat against the building. The bottom of the pilasters is marked by a rounded triangle of limestone carved with an acanthus leaf motif. Three of the pilasters are topped with rounded pyramid-shaped capitals that rise above the two-story building’s roof line.
Streng’s building featured rough cut limestone banding around the east and north facades. This banding formed the lintels of the windows and accented the horizontal lines of the building. A second limestone band formed the sills of the windows, further highlighting the horizontal lines of the building.
Above the top limestone banding were horizontal panels of decorative brick with a bas relief spiral pattern. The panels also extended along the north façade of the building.
The storefront at 700 South Ohio Avenue storefront had 15 square decorative bricks between the two second-story windows. Square bricks with a bas relief sunflower motif surround three square bricks with a filleted bas relief pattern.
Streng had a concrete addition added to the rear of the 702 S. Ohio Ave. storefront to house the iron clad oven used by the bakery. Streng’s Bakery occupied the 702 and 704 S. Ohio Ave. storefronts. Streng and his family lived in an apartment above the bakery. Streng rented the storefront a 700 S. Ohio Ave. to Henry Rodman, who ran a meat market and the upstairs apartment to Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Kroneke.
Rhonda Chalfant is the president of the Pettis County chapter of NAACP and the Pettis County Historical Society.