Weather permitting, STEP OUTSIDE onto the Broadway or Commerce Avenue sidewalks. Gaze up to the top of the Merk and observe the Georgian Revival architectural theme and white terra cotta detail. The 3rd floor double hung wood windows are original. During restoration, the 55 windows were removed from their frames. The cylinder glass (which causes that unique wavy pattern) was then removed from each sash. The sashes were reconditioned, and the 11O window panes were reset and glazed.
Now, examine the white terra cotta band above the 2nd floor windows. Most of the 1st and 2nd floor window openings were covered during previous remodeling projects. Historic photos revealed that each diamond design on the bottom row marked the center location of each window mullion. All store fronts and 2nd floor windows were framed with old growth quarter cut Douglas Fir, primed, and painted. Glass sheets (120" X 144") were delivered to the restoration site and then cut to fit each opening for a total of 540 lineal feet of glass for the two floors.
Lights, walls, and plaster moldings are all original. A block pattern was carved into the plaster finish as illustrated on the 1922 blueprints. The floor was designed to slope backward 2 degrees so that mannequins would not fall into the plate glass windows, avoiding window breakage.
Also notice how closely Architectural Reproductions matched the 12 vertical support columns to the original terra cotta tile. On the back side of the building, all steel frame windows were restored. However, many of the original opaque wire glass panes had been broken over the years. A pattern was selected for original panes on the top row and new clear glass panes on the other rows. Each of the 348 panes was removed. The window frames were then sanded, cleaned, primed, and painted. Each pane was finally installed with spring clips and glazed.
The large horizontal beams that support the top floor are twin steel beams, coated with stucco for fir proofing and finished with plaster. Spans reach as far as 36 feet. Shadow moldings run along the top edge to give an even appearance to sometimes wavy plaster finish.
Under the floor covering, each floor is constructed with solid, rough cut 2 X 6's laminated together with 60 penny common nails for a total of 432,000 board feet of lumber. Floor spans reach as far as 28 feet between supporting beams, causing some floor- vibration under heavy foot traffic. The 2nd and 3rd floors may feel different because on top of the lamination is a built up "sleeper floor" with a 4" space in between for concealing pipes and conduit.
The Long-Bell Museum Exhibits are located throughout the lobby. This exhibit features historic accounts of the Long-Bell Lumber Company and the founding of the City of Longview. Around the mezzanine walkway you will find 24 poster size copies of covers from issues of The Log of Long-Bell, the Company's monthly magazine. Covers from the 1920's illustrate exceptional graphics, many in multiple colors.
This level was originally referred to as the mezzanine and used by the "company store." The mezzanine area was expanded during 1951 for more retail space. In addition, several vertical support members which held up the mezzanine were removed for more unobstructed retail area on the main floor. To accomplish this, engineers transferred weight loads to the beams above using 10 reinforced steel rods. The walkway around the mezzanine adjacent the lobby is actually hung from the top floor. During restoration, the steel rods were fire proofed and enclosed in columns, suite walls, and into the east railing at two locations.
Observe the painted mural which hangs along the ceiling above Suite 205. In commemoration of the city's 75 anniversary (Diamond Jubilee Celebration), local artist Linda Henson was commissioned by Columbia River Mercantile, Inc. to paint the 40 foot mural depicting the founding of Longview, Washington by the Long-Bell Lumber Company of Kansas City, Missouri.
In front of Suite 202 and directly above is a partially restored 70 foot "sky court" system which diffused natural light from the roof to 2nd and 3rd floors. The sky court can also be seen on 3rd floor near Suites 304 & 305. An original door to Mr. Long's private elevator still exists in Suite 211. The shaft is now gone, but the door marks the location of the 1927 installation.
Turning toward the elevator foyer, a concrete vault structure was built in 1923 from the basement to the roof. The rest of the building was then connected to the vault system along the west wall. One original steel vault door is located in Suite 203. Another vault door is located in Suite 204, and the third more modern looking door in the 2nd floor elevator foyer.
The stairs are through the door off of the 2nd floor elevator foyer. On the left at the top of these stairs is a carpeted shelf area (future showcase). This was the stairway for the 1951 Peelle Motor Stairs escalator system. Bon March customers could take the escalator from the main floor to the 3rd, but had to walk back down the regular stairs on the return trip. The 3rd floor served as the headquarters for the Long-Bell Lumber Company, including their topographical mapping department for their timber holdings. Samuel Mark Morris, J. D. Tennant, and Wesley Vandercook were among those with private offices on the third lloor. It was here that Longview's construction was directed and the Lewis & Clark bridge designed.
Suite 301, 302, and 303 are restored offices once occupied by R. A Long, President of Long-Bell Lumber Company, and Samuel Mark Morris, General Manager for Operations. The trim, doors, and windows reflect the 1923 era. Suspended ceiling was added during the restoration to conceal duct work and electrical conduit that professional offices require today.
Photos of early Longview scenes appear throughout the third floor corridors. In 1926, original black and white photos were hand painted, engraving plates made for printing, and full color prints produced for advertising purposes. The Long-Bell Lumber company advertised their new planned city of Longview in the Saturday Evening Post, national newspapers, and travel brochures.
Walk back toward the 3rd floor elevator foyer. The Longview Public Service Room, Suite 304 is on your left. Tenants can schedule this room for tenant related business meetings and seminars at no charge. The room can accommodate up 50 people, and can be scheduled through the Merk office, Suite 110, or by contacting us through our Contact form.
Next to Suite 304 & 305 is the partially restored 70 foot sky court system with steel frames and original opaque, wire glass. If you feel it's time for a break, public restrooms and drinking fountains (fully ADA accessible) are located in the Southwest corner of each floor.
If time permits, you may want to inspect the 3rd floor vaults. The floor, ceiling, and walls are reinforced concrete. The vault system was sprinkled in 1923 just in case a fire started in the vault. Inside the vault is a barrel safe. It was craned into the building as 3rd floor was being built. Weighing in excess of 2000 pounds, the safe was moved from the R. A. Long office into the vault. Exceeding the weight limits of the new elevator, the safe will now remain inside the vault system.
As the doors open, notice the exterior wall with original windows on each floor of the shaft. This area was the location of the 1923 Otis freight elevator. The shaft as upgraded to meet current building codes and designed to take a new ADA accessible Otis custom car with a glass wall. The State of Washington granted special provisions to permit the historic steel framed windows provided that an additional layer of laminated glass was installed on the outside and the window ledges cut to a 60 degree angle thus preventing service personnel from standing on the ledges while the car was in motion.
Specialty retail stores are located on the 1st & 2nd floors. A directory and business hours are posted at the front and alley entrances. Visitors are encouraged to view the Merk historical exhibits on display throughout the first and second floor lobbies, where a variety of Long-Bell photos, newsletters, and artifacts depict the early development of Longview, the Merk, and Long-Bell Lumber operations. If questions occur and/or additional information is desired, stop by the Merk Office Suite 110.
1339 Commerce Avenue
Longview, WA 98632
8am - 6pm Monday - Friday
8am - 5pm Saturday
Closed on Sundays
New Year's Day