The AXA Building is a commercial structure on the corner of Delaware and S 5th streets that was built in 1905 and designed by William P. Feth. The building's original owner was Charles Espenscheid, a miller from St. Louis. The ornamental building is two-and-a-half stories tall of red brick with contrasting tan brick trim. The main facade faces west onto S 5th Street and the building is divided into two identical wings connected by an arched entryway. The AXA Building was listed individually on the National Register of Historic Place in 1972 and is a contributing building in the Leavenworth Downtown Historic District which was added to the National Register in 2002.
Backstory and Context
The second floor of the AXA Building was designed to house professional offices. A double staircase (similar to the style seen on the Titanic) in the lobby leads to 13 office spaces to the left and another 13 office spaces to the right. Some of the second story windows are slanted bays with bracketed, arched hoods; or windows with tan brick surrounds and fancy cornices with keystones. The uppermost half story forms an entablature with small windows interspersed by paired scroll brackets supporting a molded cornice. Inscribed on the top of the stone arch is "19 - : AXA: - 05" below a fancy ornament.
A fire started in the basement of the wholesale pharmacy in the AXA Building in 1916 and burned for four hours before it was extinguished. The flammable turpentine and paint stored in the basement made fighting the blaze difficult, even with water streams from five hydrants in use. The fire was caused by spontaneous combustion.
Ron Booth bought the independent pharmacy business in the main first-floor retail space at 429 Delaware Street in the AXA Building in 1981 and bought the building in 1985. Booth renamed the drugstore the Corner Pharmacy and restored the structure. He bought a neighboring building in 1988 to expand the vintage soda fountain and lunch counter. The business closed in 2015 when Booth retired. In the past, the space housed other pharmacies including Mehl & Schott's Pharmacy and Clyde's Pharmacy. A pharmacy has been on this corner since before the AXA Building was built, since 1871. The vacant first floor space along Delaware Street, with a renovated storefront and full basement, is available for rent and covers 3,000 square feet.
There are three commercial spaces facing S 5th Street, south of the archway entrance to the interior lobby. The first is vacant; the second, at 209 S. 5th, is Vol Libre Salon. The third, on the corner with the alley, houses Acme Shoe and Boot Repair. At least one of the second floor office spaces is leased by a couples counselling service.
Anonymous. Fire in Wholesale Drugstore in Leavenworth. Fire and Water Engineering, vol. LIX, no. 7108 - 108. Published February 16th 1916. Google Books.
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Loughlin, Amanda. 103-3020-00160 AXA Building, 429-431 Delaware St., Kansas Historic Resources Inventory. Accessed July 28th 2020. https://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?in=103-3020-00160.
Richmeier, John . "After operating the Corner Pharmacy for 34 years, owner Ron Booth is retiring." Leavenworth Times (Leavenworth, KS) March 18th 2015. online ed, Breaking News sec.
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