SULLIVAN, Louis Henry
(b. 1856, Boston, d. 1924, Chicago)

Van Allen Building

200 5th Avenue South, Clinton,

During the period when Sullivan designed banks (the "jewel boxes") in small towns in the Midwest, he also designed the Van Allen Building (1912-14), Clinton, Iowa, and two large houses, the Babson House (1907; destroyed), Riverside, Illinois, and the Bradley House (1909), Madison, Wisconsin.

The Van Allen Building, also known as Van Allen and Company Department Store, is a four-story building commissioned by John Delbert Van Allen (1850-1928). Constructed as a department store, it now has upper floor apartments with ground-floor commercial space.

The exterior has brick spandrels and piers over the structural steel skeletal frame. Terra-cotta is used for horizontal accent banding and for three slender, vertically applied mullion medallions on the façade running through three storeys, from ornate corbels at the second-floor level to huge outbursts of vivid green terra-cotta foliage in the attic.

There is a very slight cornice. Black marble facing is used around the glass show windows on the first floor. The walls are made of long thin bricks in a burnt grey colour with a tinge of purple. Above the ground floor, all the windows are framed by a light grey terra-cotta.

As with Sullivan's late Midwestern banks, the Van Allen Building indicates the vigour and inventiveness of the architect during his late years. The play of the rich projecting terra-cotta ornament (particularly the three flowerlike cartouches above the fourth-floor windows) against the plain horizontal brick surfaces of the building was a design theme that he utilized in a good number of his late buildings.