The past and present of the historic Strauss Building
Dec13

The past and present of the historic Strauss Building

A Local Icon Most Fort Wayne residents are familiar with Fortezza Coffee—the local business has quickly risen to become a favorite coffee spot, restaurant, work space, and meeting place for the community since it opened in 2014. Its iconic location compliments the specialty drinks and eclectic menu for which the shop is known, the stylized red brick exterior standing out vibrantly against the surrounding businesses. But do you know the full history behind the building Fortezza calls home? Constructed in 1890, the Strauss Building (located at 821 S. Calhoun St.) is one of downtown Fort Wayne’s oldest and most recognizable structures. The building has served myriad purposes, housing a wide variety of businesses and institutions for the past 128 years. Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District describes the Strauss Building as having “a rich history spanning an era of many inventions, entrepreneurs, and visionaries.” Then Sandra Lahrman, the Strauss Building’s current property manager, is knowledgeable about the structure’s past as well as its present. But the building’s longevity also lends itself to mystery. According to Lahrman, the original purpose for the Strauss Building when it was first constructed is unknown. “We don’t have the exact purpose of the building immediately after it was built, other than it was generally commercial use. But around the turn of the century it hosted a Western Union and various financial institutions,” says Lahrman. During its initial years, the Strauss Building was ahead of its time. It was one of the first locations in Fort Wayne to have early telegraph lines, the conduits for which can still be seen in the building’s basement. The Strauss Building went on to serve as the first office for Lincoln Financial Group, a Fortune 250 company that still has a large office location and prominent community presence in Fort Wayne. Later on in the twentieth century, it hosted several different business including boutique retail shores, a chiropractic practice, and general office space. Now When Fortezza Coffee owner Sean Wang was searching for a location to establish his business, he knew the Strauss Building’s historic charm and location in the heart of downtown were the right fit. “The landlords were able to save a lot of the original uniqueness, such as the ceiling and the brick walls, but also keep up with the updated safety code and functionality,” said Wang. In spite of its age and varied uses, the Strauss Building has fared incredibly well over time. Lahrman shares that some some long-forgotten signs of wear were discovered when the current management acquired the property. “There were signs of small fires when we began sanding and renovating the wood floors...

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LFW’s Top Picks for Best Coffee Shops
Jan04

LFW’s Top Picks for Best Coffee Shops

It’s a Monday morning and you woke up late for work. As you’re scrambling to get your stuff prepared for the day ahead, you realize your hot water isn’t working. You do as much as you can to your hair and decide that today is a “Messy Bun Day”. You look at the clock and see that if you leave now, you’ll have just enough time to grab that quick cup of coffee on your way to work. Living Fort Wayne knows Mondays well. More importantly, we know where to get the best coffee in town to kickstart your week. So for your convenience, here’s our list of Best Coffee Shops.   Jade Kelsey picks… The Friendly Fox (photo by Nicholas Weaver) This cozy neighborhood joint feels like stepping into a friend’s house, so it’s no surprise that they are family owned and operated. The Friendly Fox serves Utopian Coffee, which pairs perfectly with their Saturday morning special, Malted Milk Waffles. Hungry yet? The Fox also offers a full menu of lunch and dinner specials, including a flatbread for every taste, Korean BBQ, wraps, paninis, salad, and more. If you’re in the mood for some dessert, the Fox also has homemade cheesecake, handmade milkshakes, floats, and sundaes for your relentless sweet tooth. Perhaps just a few macaroons while you sip a cuppa joe.   Becca Bell picks… Old Crown Coffee Roasters It was the first (and only) coffee roaster in Fort Wayne for many years. For more than 15 years, Old Crown has taken the “purist” approach to everything—coffee is roasted in-house, chocolate and caramel sauces are 100% from scratch, veggies and herbs are grown in their backyard, and iced drinks use slow-processed, cold extracted espresso. Not to mention that they have craft cocktails made with fresh juice and house-made syrups and infusions. Since moving into their new location in November of 2009, owners Mike and Jennifer have added a seasonally-inspired dinner menu. For both regular customers and longtime employees, like me, the OC is much more than a coffee shop. It is a FAMILY.   Leslie Snare picks… Dash-In For a mid-day coffee run (and we all need those sometimes, right?) will always be the Dash-In. They feature Old Crown coffee and sometimes you just need a solid cup of joe to make it through the workday. The Dash-In also has some amazing lunch specials! I would recommend their famous tomato bisque along with a strong cup of coffee to warm up during your lunch hour.   Travis Bartlett picks… Mocha Lounge When I lived out in Southwest Fort Wayne, this was my go-to spot for coffee. Super friendly...

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