Address: 1 Public Square
Architectural Style: Romanesque
Year Built: c. 1840s
Architect/Builder: Unknown
Original Owner: Cooper Family

The building was owned throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries by the locally prominent Cooper family, most notably Hugh, Elias, and Charles Cooper.  All of these men were partners in the local industrial firm by their name, founded by brothers Charles and Elias, which ultimately became the internationally known Cooper Industries of today.  The building is commonly referred to as the Kremlin Building because of its vaguely reminiscent features of the famed Moscow citadel.  Sometime in the early 20th century, it hosted a hall for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the first such hall within the city, and both within the Downtown Mount Vernon Historic District.

Later the building served as the home of Idlehour, a pool, billiard, and bowling parlor.  Idlehour was first established around 1901 in the Bogardus Building, formerly located on the southwest corner of the Public Square, until the club moved into the Kremlin Building around 1903.  The purpose of Idlehour was to provide citizens of Mount Vernon an outlet for physical activity, much like the modern gyms of today.  The turn of the 20th century saw an increase in the "physical culture" throughout the Untied States, and many felt that bowling, pool, and billiard playing provided some of the most beneficial and interesting means of providing exercise.  Idlehour was also host to a number of local bowling leagues, including a club for women.  There were a total of four regulation size lanes available for patrons of all skill.  The Idlehour team was at the top of the City League, and was also a member of the Ohio Central Bowling League, of which Idlehour owner R. R. Russell was president.  Some of those on the team were members of the National Bowling Congress, as well, and competed in the annual meetings.

By 1905, part of the Idlehour parlors were closed off to show moving pictures, at the time still a novelty.  Within a few years, the bowling alley and pool room were relocated to the basement to open prime retail space for a new motion picture venue, the Cooper Theatre, which also had a small stage for live performances.  Both feature-length and small programs of live entertainment conducted between films were performed on the stage, but it was not long before patrons began attending the motion pictures more than the vaudeville shows.  The Cooper Theatre soon discontinued the live performance acts in favor of the more profitable silver screen.  The Cooper Theatre was later renamed the Grand Theatre sometime around 1913, until the Knox County Chamber of Commerce moved into the space sometime in the 1920s.

This large three-story buildings pans the length of the entire block between the Public Square and Gay Street.  The most prominent feature, and the feature by which it earned its name, is the octagonal tower on the northwest corner of the building, facing the Square.  The tower begins at the 2nd story, and extends a full story above the roofline of the main building.  The conical roof of the tower sports slate shingles and a cast iron spherical finial.  Removed from the northern facade, facing East High Street, were two oriel windows projecting from the 2nd story.  Also removed from this face was a an Italianate cornice with pairs of decorative brackets.

 


 

Downtown District

District Properties