Mrs S.J. Young Building
Tour Stop 5
Mrs S.J. Young BuildingWithout a doubt, this is one of the favorite buildings on the square. It has an amazingly preserved metal façade and is pretty unique in that it was contracted to be built by a woman in 1887.
Born in 1848 in Illinois, Sarah Jessie Young was married to a traveling dentist who brought her to Arkansas in 1877. Divorced in 1883, she took to photography as a means of support. She built this building in 1887, using the top floor for her photography studio and renting out the ground floor.
She specialized in portraits, but by 1907 had moved to Atchison, Kansas, and sold the building to Cook's Jewelry. At various times it has also housed a grocery store, bank, confectionary store, restaurant, millinery shop and dry goods store. It was Matilda's women's wear store for nearly sixty years, and was purchased and restored by the Bank of Fayetteville in 1999.
The building front is from a catalog. The Mesker Brothers Iron Works in St. Louis specialized in ornamental sheet-metal façades and cast iron storefront components which were ordered through catalogs and easily shipped by rail to any interested building owner. Their extensive product lines not only featured embossed sheet-metal panels and cast iron but also entire storefront assemblies, as well as tin ceilings, fences, skylights, and freight elevators. Let's take a quick close-up look at the Mrs. Young Building, where you can see the Mesker Brothers stamp on the iron columns.
Many buildings around the Square originally had decorative sheet metal fronts – this is the only one that has survived.
Photo Courtesy of: Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville
History provided by: Gary Coover, Coover Consultants