Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fort Lauderdale's first skyscraper - nine stories

Sweet Building today - now
One River Plaza

Fort Lauderdale’s first skyscraper was built in 1925-1926. First National Bank paid $24,000 for the site and $487,000 for construction of the building that opened June, 1926. An original plan to build 20 stories was re-configured to nine.  

Located at 305 South Andrews (now One River Plaza) it was the most prestigious address in the burgeoning city. Doctors and dentists rented space there as did developer Frank Croissant, the Miami Daily News, Attorney and Fort Lauderdale notable George English, and Boca Raton’s Mizner Development Corporation.

A devastating hurricane slammed into South Florida in 1926*, hurling the area prematurely into the Great Depression. To stay financially afloat, the bank merged with Fort Lauderdale Bank and Trust Co. soon after. The building, which emerged from the storm with minimal damage, was bought and sold a number of times throughout the years. In 1930, John Lochrie, Charles N. McCune and William Sweet, Jr. took ownership. Sweet assumed sole control in 1931. The building was known for years as the Sweet Building but Sweet resisted, according to today’s owner, because he did not want it to be associated with the sale of sweets. The name prevailed.

Air-conditioning was installed in 1948. The façade was changed as were some of its structural elements. This could be why it is not listed with the National Register of Historic Places. In 1967 it was renamed the Las Olas Building. The One River Plaza Company has owned the property, now 292,000 square-feet, since 1979.

* See label or search this blog for more on the 1926 storm.

Tags:  historical researcher, Fort Lauderdale history, One River Plaza, Florida film researcher

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