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Downtown Sioux City Iowa Walking Tour
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The Davidson Building opened in 1913 as Sioux City's first major downtown commercial office building. The Davidson brothers immigrated to Sioux City from Russia during the 1890s and soon rose to profound financial success as retailers and also became leaders of the city's Jewish community. The office building served as the headquarters for their retail operation. It also serves as a monument to local, successful architect William L. Steele, who studied under the famed Louis Sullivan in Chicago. Steel went on to design many Prairie-Style buildings in Sioux City.

  • 1968 Photo of the Davidson Building
  • 2012 Photo of the Davidson Building

The Davidson Building, completed in 1913, was the first office building in Sioux City and the only designed in the Sullivanesque manner. Renowned Sioux City architect William L. Steele designed the early-commercial-style building for two Russian immigrants, Ben and Dave Davidson, who enjoyed substantial success real estate and as entrepreneurs in Sioux City.

Steel trained under famed Chicago architect Louis Sullivan and the Davidson Building resembles much of the work he witnesses while in Chicago. Steel went on to develop many buildings in another Sullivan style, made more famous by Frank Lloyd Wright: The Prairie Style. But the Davidson Building stands as one of his earliest works. Still, it exhibits the confidence and talent of a young architect who had gained the significant Davidson project in 1911, a mere four years after establishing his own architectural firm. 

Ben Davidson emigrated to Sioux City from Russia in 1882 when Sioux City only supported a population of approximately 7,000. While he waited for his brother, Dave, to arrive one year later, he peddled tinware to make ends meet. When Dave arrived n 1883, the two brothers opened a retail store. Their younger brother, Abe, joined them a few years after the store opened. By the late 1880s, the Davidsons' store -- eventually referred to as Davidsons Brothers -- enjoyed tremendous success, which continued well into the early part of the twentieth century. 

The brothers launched several ventures in the early 1900s, including the Davidson Realty Company, Davidson Building Company, Davidson Day-Light Block building, Davidson's Court residential area, and the Sunset Residential Development Area. As well, the brothers served as leaders of the Sioux City Jewish community. Ben also saw the need for a modern office building that served the brothers' interests and distinguished professionals. So, he hired William L. Steele to design the first such office structure in the city: the Davidson Building. The building enjoyed a modern design, and it offered its occupants a wealth of the most modern conveniences available in 1913. The Davidson brothers expressed their pride and joy in completing the building by throwing a lavish grand opening party on April 1, 1913. 

The Davidson Building served as the headquarters to the brothers' retail operation until 1947 when they sold their interests to the Younkers Department Store. From 1947 until 1969, the retailer went by the name Younker-Davidsons. But, in 1969, the "Davidsons" name disappeared. The department store was demolished during the 1970s, leaving the office building as the only reminder of the Davidson brother's influence on Sioux City. After the completion of $73 million in renovations in 2020, the Davidson Building and the adjoining landmark Warrior Hotel function together as one luxury apartment complex, boutique hotel, and lower-level commercial space. 

Butz, Dolly . "PROGRESS: Historic Warrior Hotel, Davidson Building nears opening after $73M renovation." Sioux City Journal (Sioux City) March 22nd 2020, Local sec. https://siouxcityjournal.com/special-section/local/industry/progress-historic-warrior-hotel-davidson-building-nears-opening-after-73m-renovation/article_bb9661da-7cf4-5cd2-be74-abc8af32ed5f.html

Castleberry, Glenda. "Nomination Form: Davidson Building." National Register of Historic Places." nps.gov. June 25, 1999. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/ae2acfd8-a58b-439a-af07-b15bd2faabb6/

Sioux City History. Accessed July 15, 2020. http://www.siouxcityhistory.org/.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Sioux City Journal File Photo https://siouxcityjournal.com/blogs/siouxland_history/business/davidson-building/image_dfe301d8-136a-5a41-860e-07bd937a6740.html

By Ammodramus - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18952925