Bell Building

Bell Building

…has towered over Montgomery Street for 100 years now. Newton Bell, whose dream it was, died during the construction, but his son, N J Bell Jr, saw it to completion, and his son N J III managed the property until the late 1960s. The building was actually U-shaped, having had a light court inset from the rear. The structure was designed by Montgomery architect Frederick Ausfeld, who followed the Louis Sullivan Chicago School. For its first 60 years the three Otis elevators were operated by “greeters” who knew all the tenants by name, and called out the floors as the cars traveled upwards. For a half-century the building boasted the most prestigious tenants of the city, including, in the early decades, the famous Beauvoir Men’s Club. The club occupied the top floor and even had a roof garden for entertaining the ladies. It is reported that a young and wild Zelda Sayer danced on the roof parapet on several occasions to the horror of the onlookers. The Bell Building was placed on the National Historic Register in 1981. (Historic Register Pics)

-Charles Humphries

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