Another Small (Though Indicative) Lesson on Columbus, Historical and Architectural

And now let's learn about an historical building Columbus hasn't torn down only to later regret: The American Insurance Union Citadel, now more conveniently shortened to LeVeque Tower.

Nice Art Deco thing, isn't she?

Nice Art Deco thing, isn't she?

In the 1920's Columbus was a growing metropolis, twenty-eighth largest city in the nation, even. But who wanted to be there? No one, really. Columbus needed a way to attract folk, and what better way than an arbitrary claim to fame.

And so the American Insurance Union commissioned what would be The Tallest Building between New York and Chicago (Exclusive) when it was finished in 1927. As such, all they had to do was make sure it was taller than the Washington Monument's 555 feet. Wanting to stake their claim, but not be too gaudy, the architects shot for a reasonable 555 feet and 6 inches. When we shoot for hubris, we shoot just far enough.

As it turns out, someone flubbed the measurements for the Washington Monument for years. It's actually 555 feet, 5 and 1/8 inches. We may only have beaten it by 7/8 of an inch, but we beat it none the less. Take that, our nation's capital.

Despite calling the Tower a Citadel in order to convey to the public how sound the company was, the American Insurance Union went bankrupt within a decade of its completion, either because the building project ended vastly over-budget or because the 1930's killed a lot of companies. It was bought on the cheap by Leslie L. LeVeque who needed a giant building shaped like his initials in case he forgot them. LeVeque, incidentally, had the money from his patent on the automatic bowling pinsetter.

LeVeque made a few changes, including removing 4 statues of Colosus from the exterior corners of the 40th floor because they blocked the view from his office. The other statues that littered the exterior didn't need LeVeque's help, the terracotta began to crumble and some of them rained down into the streets before they were all removed.

There used to be an observation deck, but that was closed down when the antennas were added to the top of the building. Currently, the top two floors are a penthouse apartment which is on the market for $4,500 a month. It's a bit cramped (video tour), but you really can't beat the view of the city through the cracks between the taller buildings that now surround the Tower. I think they even let you have free reign of Columbus' 1:1 scale replica of the Santa Maria. The key's are under the visor, just have her back by midnight and try not to hit either of the bridges she sits between.