Iron Block Building

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Iron Block Building
Alternative names Frick Building, Nick Amster Building, Kauke's Block, Kauke's Building,
General information
Town or city Wooster, Ohio
Construction started 1853

Also Known As Building Name

  • Kauke's Iron Block or Kauke's Block
  • Frick Building
  • Nick Amster Building

Comprehensive History

The Iron Block building was constructed in 1853 for property owners James C. Jacobs and John H. Kauke. It has had many different monikers over the years: Kauke's building, Iron Block, Frick Building, and Amster Building. In 1889, Jacob Frick added a fourth floor to the building and placed his name on top of the building. After Nick Amster bought the building he put his name on top of the building.

This stately red brick structure with hand-cut stone trim is assumed to have been built as a commercial block. With its stone-capped pilasters separating its eight bays of symmetrical windows on the upper two floors, the original structure reflected the Greek Revival style that was highly popular across northeast Ohio at the time. The low-crowned roof looked flat from some angles, and a series of decoratively cast square iron support columns along the front of the structure resulted in its being called the "Iron Block" for many years.

In 1865 Jacob Frick purchased the Iron Block, which at that time housed the Jacobs Hardware Store. He added both his name and a fourth floor to the building in 1889. A Victorian mansard roof added height to the building, which had been somewhat dwarfed by the construction of the present-day Wayne County Courthouse (1878-Present).

The ground floor of the building was leased steadily during the 1800s, and it was considered to be the city's best business location. The upper floors were typically occupied by lawyers, real estate firms, and insurance agencies.

In 1898, a bankrupt business in the building was bought out by newcomer Nick Amster, a friend of Frick. Amster remodeled and expanded his own clothing business multiple times beginning in 1907, becoming one of the largest men's clothing establishments in the northeast Ohio area, and in 1922, he purchased the building from Frick's estate. After Amster's death many years later, the property passed to his daughter, Julia Amster Fishelson.

In January 1995, Fishelson leased the property to the Wayne County Board of Commissioners with a 10-year option to purchase it. The commissioners purchased it in 1997, and in 1998 they began a renovation of the structure to meld it with the Wayne County Courthouse (1878-Present) and relocate the county's law library there, along with offices for a variety of other county operations.[1]


  • 1853: Iron Block building constructed.
  • 1865: Building purchased by Jacob Frick.
  • 1889: Fourth floor added to building; renamed Frick Building.
  • 1901: Frick dies.
  • 1922: Nick Amster purchases building from Frick estate.
  • 1997: Wayne County Commissioners purchase building from Julia Amster Fishelson, Amster's daughter.
  • 1998: Multi-million dollar renovation begins.


  • 1853-1865: James C. Jacobs and John H. Kauke
  • 1865-1922: Jacob Frick (later, his estate)
  • 1922-1951: Nick Amster
  • 1951-1997: Julia Amster Fishelson
  • 1997-present: Wayne County Board of Commissioners


Historical documents

Newspaper articles



Wayne County Recorder Property Transfers

  • 1813: John Bever, William Henry, Joseph H. Larwill To John Christmas Vol. 1 p.8-9 Old Lot No. 83 and 82 $127
  • 1832: John Christmas To Samuel H. Hand, Catherine Hand Vol. 9 p.461-462 Old Lot No. 83 $2,500
    • 1832: Samuel H. Hand, Catherine Hand To Joseph S. Lake, Eleanor E. Lake Vol. 9 p.509 Old Lot No. 83 $1,250
  • 1845: Joseph S. Lake, Eleanor E. Lake To James Jacobs, John H. Kauke Vol. 34 p.514 Old Lot No. 83 $2,500
  • 1853: James Jacobs To John H. Kauke (Mortgage) Vol. 40 p.345 (Old Lot 83 renumbered to 95 after New Plat of Wooster) the undivided 2/3 of 22ft off east side of Lot No. 95 and 38ft off west side of Lot 95 $6,552.60
  • 1866: John H. Kauke, Elizabeth Kauke To James Jacobs Vol. 67 p.448 Lot 95 $5,000
  • 1867: David Robison Jr., Ann E. Robison To James C. Jacobs, David A. Jacobs Vol. 68 p.104 Lot 95 $6,533.33
  • 1875: James Jacobs To Eliza Jane Kieffer (sometimes referred to as E.J. Keefer or E.J. Kieffer wife of Samuel Keefer) Vol. 94 p.22 $45,000 Lot 95
  • 1884: Eliza J. Kieffer, Samuel Keefer To Jacob Frick Vol. 111 p.44 $40,000 Lot 95; also east 1/2 of Old Lot 82, renumbered to Lot 94 and west 1/2 of Old Lot 82 (now Lot 94)
  • 1922: J. Frick Tyler, Administrator of Jacob Frick estate To Nick Amster Vol. 193 p.226 Lots 94, 95, and 1276 $122.50 revenue stamp


  1. The Wayne County Courthouse, Courthouse Annex, and Amster Building: A Brief History and Self-Guided Tour
  2. Wooster Daily Republican. Wooster, Ohio, 1917-06-12, p. 2