Built circa 1888, the building which is currently used as Rick Orr’s Florist is one of the few remaining Romanesque commercial buildings in Champaign, and it still has its turn of the century cast iron storefront, including cast iron framed picture display windows.
The existence and condition of the cast iron framing is ironically owed to an effort to “modernize” the building many decades ago, which covered it up while protecting it from the elements. Many cast iron storefronts succumbed to the weather, destroyed by attaching material to the surface, or were removed outright, in this case the ironwork was just covered and protected.
The Commission determined that 122 N. Walnut Street meets (c) and (f) and designated the property as a Local Landmark in 2003:
(c) The property or structure is representative of the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type inherently valuable for the study of a period style, craftsmansh4, method of construction or use of indigenous materials. This building is one of only three buildings to retain its cast iron storefront. Commercial buildings of the past have relied on storefronts to market the products inside. The cast-iron detailing and storefront designs contribute to making the building unique and assists in attracting
customers. The cast-iron columns and pilasters are an example of such unique storefront characteristics.
(f) One of the few remaining examples of a particular architectural style or use, or is an example which clearly represents a major architectural style, and has undergone little or no alteration since its construction. With its cast iron storefront this building reflects very early commercial architecture from downtown Champaign’s turn-of-the century period. Unfortunate alterations have been removed from the building during its 1980’s renovation, and its appearance today is much as it was in its earliest years. The only two other buildings of note in this Romanesque Revival style are the Women’s Town Club at 112 W. Hill, and the Salem Baptist Church at 500 B. Park, both local landmarks.