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Wolf & Dessauer Building C. 1964

By Randy Harter

Fort Wayne Reader


The above building, which opened in 1959, was the fourth and final home of the Wolf & Dessauer department store in downtown Fort Wayne. The business was founded in 1896 at 808 South Calhoun Street by Sam Wolf & Myron Dessauer. They then moved it to 119 West Berry in 1904 (current site of Star Bank) before then also outgrowing that location and moving to a newly constructed building at the northeast corner of Calhoun and Washington in 1918 where they would remain for the next 41 years.

In 1920, they sold the company to their general manager G. Irving Latz. In 1959 Latz’s sons, William and G. Irving II, had constructed and moved the store into the pictured building on Clinton bounded by Wayne and Barr Streets. In 1966 the company was sold to City Stores, and in 1969 to L. S. Ayres with the downtown store being shuttered in 1979.

The above building has since been repurposed multiple times. Vacant for over a decade, it was purchased by Waterfield Mortgage in the mid-1980’s to house the expansion of their rapidly growing company. Richard D. Waterfield had the insides striped out, completely reconstructed and gave it the name Renaissance Square to connote a renaissance of Fort Wayne’s downtown.

In 1988 Waterfield occupied the third floor, lower level, and leased most of the rest of the building to Lincoln National Corp. Lincoln needing more space asked to lease the whole building, so in 1991 Waterfield obliged moving their offices out to the old MULIC building on West Jefferson. The property later changed hands; Lincoln moved top executive offices to Philadelphia, and the building was leased to the Allen County Public Library while their expansion at the main library was completed.

In 2011, it became Citizens Square and now houses the offices of the City of Fort Wayne.

Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne historian and author of two books on local history.

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