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Published: Friday, 9/18/2009

Bring back the Nicholas

ONE by one they become empty testimonials to the glory days of years past. But when the lights went out recently at the Nicholas Building in downtown Toledo, they went out on a landmark structure whose proud history should give it a second lease on life.

The 17-story office building in the city's central business district must not sit silent and shuttered long. Its owner, who failed to pay its electric bill, is seeking a buyer with "deep pockets" to purchase the building before time and the elements take a toll.

In its heyday, the Nicholas Building was a bustling place with more than 5,000 workers and home to some of Toledo's largest local firms, including Owens-Illinois Inc., Owens-Corning, and the former Libbey-Owens Ford.

At once time, the historic building welcomed about 10,000 visitors a day.

When it was constructed in 1905 on the northwest corner of Huron Street and Madison, the Nicholas Building was the tallest skyscraper in Ohio at 192 feet. Interestingly, builders borrowed from an ancient Roman method for achieving a solid foundation on marshy terrain by driving 1,200 oak logs into the ground as a base for supporting columns.

It would be a shame if one of the city's first steel frame structures, which rose to such unique prominence at the turn of the 20th century, were to fall into the kind of disrepair that hobbled the plumbing system at Toledo's Fiberglas Tower. There should be time enough to act before winter.

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