German immigrant Frank Dekum amassed a fortune during Portland's explosive early history with his confectionery business. The massive Dekum Building, completed in 1892 at a cost exceeding $300,000, used exclusively Oregon materials in its construction. The brick masons drank beer instead of coffee on their job, according to one old timer whose duties as a boy had been to haul the large pails of beer up to them.
The architects of the Dekum Building, McCaw and Martin, made an audacious break from the cast-iron architecture of the 1880s. They adopted the new, lesser-known designs of Richardsonian Romanesque, characterized by massive rough-cut sandstone pillars on the ground level and red brick surfaces with cast terra-cotta ornamentation on the upper stories.