niels & mellie esperson
continued page 4 of 5

By: Thomas M. Ciesla

During the period in her life after her divorce, Mellie Esperson Stewart, now Mellie Esperson, was all ‘big business’. Surrounded by a large secretarial staff, she expanded the Esperson business base and was by all accounts, a difficult person to get an appointment with because of her busy schedule.

The Niels Esperson Building had been a tremendous success for Mellie as one of the city’s most prestigious and desirable locations for office space. Keeping with her desire to utilize the most recent advances in technology, Mellie had the entire building air conditioned in 1938. The next year, she again contacted John Eberson to create a companion building to the Niels Esperson building.

“But”, she cautioned Mr. Eberson, “it must not be as tall as Mr. Esperson’s building, nor as magnificent, I wouldn’t want it to detract from his glory in any way. Let it be to the right of his building -- as I always was to him.”

Thus the 19-story air-conditioned building would be very different from its 32-story companion. Its extreme modern design would contrast the Italian Renaissance architecture of Niels’ building. The gray limestone facing standing pale against the bronze glow of the other buildings finish.

“But these buildings do not stand as monuments to Niels and Mellie Esperson. I do not like the word monument, do you? Rather they are practical, operating developments in a city that has been good and fair to us, and to which we owe so much.

“The work was just here for me to do, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do this work to occupy my time and life. I suspect it would have been a rather lonely one without it.” ---Mellie Esperson

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The steel skeleton of the Mellie Esperson building

The Mellie and Niels Esperson buildings, 1941

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