The Waters Building is currently undergoing renovations. This will be the third incarnation of the building. We definitely have a piece of Grand Rapids history with this space. We appreciate the history of the building and we are incorporating that into the new designs. The remodel is combining an eclectic feel of the old and new. We think the history of the space is important, lets take a look at the origins of this landmark building.
During the second half of the 19th Century Grand Rapids was recognized globally as a leader in the furniture industry. Grand Rapids earned the appropriate nickname Furniture City.
Furniture was showcased in a variety of downtown buildings in the 1800’s, from hotel lobbies to vacant shops or basements. Young Phillip Klingman from Ohio came to Grand Rapids to show his furniture line. He was a man known to be “aggressive, a master salesman, an entrepreneur disregarding tradition and advice.” Klingman first leased two floors of The Blodgett Building and later the entire building with partner Charles P. Limbert. However, Klingman sought after
“…a center where manufacturers from many states could display their wares, attracting smaller as well as larger dealers. Grand Rapids could not have become a national wholesale furniture market without bringing in outside lines to supplement the local product in variety and price range.” –FurnitureCityHistory.org
He approached the estate of Daniel H. Waters to erect a five story building on Ottawa Ave. Originally the building at the corner of Ottawa Ave and Lyon St was called the Klingman-Waters Exhibition Building, built in 1899. The sixth floor was added a few years later. The building was the host to many furniture manufacturers. For many years it was the largest furniture display building in America.