1906 was a banner year in Harrisburg for the construction of major buildings. The new State Capitol Building was completed that year and two "book-end" office structures were developed on Market Square. One was the eight-story Union Trust Building at N. Second and Strawberry Streets, dubbed as Harrisburg's first skyscraper. The other, first known as the Johnston Building, is located here at S. Second and Blackberry Streets. Originally only four stories in height, the Johnston Building was built for the Johnston Paper Company, Harrisburg's first paper bag business founded by Robert A. Johnston in the 1880's. Johnston initially formed a partnership with Harrisburg businessman William Mayne Donaldson in the wholesale paper and printing supply business at Second and Locust Streets. In 1906 they went their separate ways with Donaldson forming the Donaldson Paper Company, remaining at Second and Locust, and Johnston moving to his new facility on Market Square. In 1912, two floors were added to the Italianate-styled building giving it a more urban presence. In 1924, Beckley College, forerunner to today's Thompson Institute, established its administrative offices in the building's upper stories. By the late 1970's, the building was a candidate for one of Harrisburg's earlier revitalization projects. It was thoroughly restored including the removal of insensitive signage and alterations which had obscured the building's first floor rusticated piers and window fenestration. When completed in 1977, the structure was renamed for Mortimer Menaker, Chairman of the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority at that time. The building is a fitting anchor to the south side of Market Square and captures the architectural flavor of Harrisburg's early 20th Century office development.
1909 postcard view of Johnston Building when only four stories tall.
1925 sketch of heightened Johnston Building from a Beckley College advertisement.
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