The earliest surviving anchor for the northeast corner of 5th Avenue South and 2nd Street is the Howes building. Edward Madison Howes constructed this building and the first three floors were opened in 1900. His uncle, Edward Madison Davis had previously constructed the Davis Block on the corner of 6th Avenue South and 2nd Street. It is assumed that Mr. Howes was inspired to construct his own building in spite of the fact that Clinton’s economy was in decline at the time due to the contraction of the lumber industry in Clinton. He selected Josiah Rice, the architect for the Moeszinger-Marquis (today Armstrong) building, St. Mary’s Church (now demolished) and rectory, Clinton High School (today the Roosevelt building, the Lamb block (today the Jacobson building) and numerous other buildings in town that are either listed on the National Register of Historic Places or eligible for this listing.
Mr. Howes and his architect decided that they wanted to construct a building that was “modern” and state of the art for a department store. They travelled to a number of places to see other new department stores and concluded that the key attributes for the building they wanted were ample light and space. The building designed by Mr. Rice had prism glass tiles (now covered) over the show windows to diffuse and direct the exterior natural light to the selling floor. Prism glass tiles were later used in the Van Allen building on the northwest side of the intersection for the same reason. The exterior of the building was constructed of red face brick with terra cotta accents. The major influence for the exterior was the Renaissance Revival Style expressed by the engaged pilasters with Ionic capitals.. Each floor had a different treatment. The second floor has very large rectangular windows and very high ceilings. The third floor has arched windows and a ceiling not quite so high. The fourth floor has small windows and the lowest ceiling.
The original anchor tenant was the Reed & Conger store which moved, after only 16 years in the Lamb block, to the Howes building.