The Hills Building is a local example of efforts by architects in the 1920s to adapt Gothic designs to tall buildings. The Hills building was designed by Melvin King.
The structure is primarily a “Metropolitan” style with its roof line setbacks, but is ornamented with any Gothic design elements to the point of having an elaborate but stylistically misplaced gargoyle.
The Hills Building, built in 1928, is the work of Melvin L. King, an architectural partnership that exists today as King and King. Famed architect Archimedes Russell was an original partner. The 12-story office building is of steel frame construction clad with stone and brick. The original owner was Clarence Hills, who formed one of the largest real estate firms in Syracuse in 1910. Construction followed the zoning concept that the bulk of tall buildings had to be set back far enough to allow sunlight to reach the street level. An interesting feature is the gargoyle in one corner, ready to pounce on St. Paul’s Cathedral across Montgomery Street. One gargoyle? The mystery of why it’s there seems to have died with the architect. Not even his sons in the firm knew the answer to that puzzle. It also has a band of small shields above the second story, depicting signs of the zodiac.
Band of zodiac shields on the Hills Building
Zodiac shield featuring Libra
Zodiac shield featuring Scorpio