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Lamar Building

Lamar Building

Lamar Building
Historic Augusta, Inc.

Work on what was intended to be the Empire Life Insurance Company building began in late 1913 under the direction of the Whitney Company of New York, general contractors.   G. Lloyd Preacher of Augusta and W. L. Stoddard of New York were the associated architects. The building was one of the first “modern” office buildings in Augusta.

Only a shell remained after the new building was gutted by fire in the Great Augusta Fire of March 1916 that burned 32 blocks of downtown commercial and residential buildings. It was rebuilt and opened for use in 1918 overcoming many obstacles including bankruptcy of the parent company. By this time, the building was known as the Lamar Building in honor the late Joseph Rucker Lamar, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, who had lived in Augusta. The Lamar Building became the Southern Finance Building in 1925, after its new owners formed the Southern Finance Corporation.

The Lamar Building has 16-floors and conforms to the basic arrangements of early 20th century multi-storied office buildings or skyscrapers. Its steel frame, reinforced with concrete and sheathed with stone, brick, and glass, and its overall form of base, tower, and cornice derive from Louis Sullivan’s formula for tall buildings as developed by the Chicago School of Architecture.  Its Baroque detailing and setbacks, however, clearly identify the building as an early 20th-century manifestation of a skyscraper. It is a large, vertical column with a 2-story base and 14-story shaft with setbacks capped by an ornate cornice. The mode of finishing the cornice was altered in 1975 when the original red tile hipped roof was replaced by a contemporary penthouse designed by I. M. Pei.  This addition includes a glass room perched over an apartment.

Since its completion in 1918, the Lamar Building has been one of the most prominent office buildings in downtown Augusta and a virtual hub of local commercial and financial activities. The building can be considered a local pioneer of modern office buildings with its fireproof characteristics, elevators, and office suites.

Plan your visit

The Lamar Building is located at 753 Broad St. within the boundaries of the Augusta Downtown Historic District.  It is open for free tours by appointment.  To schedule call 706-564-6232.

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