The Fleming Tower

Shortly after its construction in 1936, the Fleming Tower (800 block of Bradburn Street) became rather infamous for a rush of people repeatedly attempting to commit suicide from the top of its sixteen stories. Newspaper records show that, between the building’s opening in May 1936 and November of that year, twenty-eight people attempted the grave act, with eleven of them attaining their ultimate goal.The public was horrified and the tower’s first tenants began proceedings to cancel their leases in droves. The building’s owner, real estate developer James H. Fleming, was in a panic- it was far too expensive to hire a full staff of guards to oversee every corner of the building on a twenty-four-hour basis, but it would be far worse to have a brand new empty concrete and steel building on his hands.

Finally, he hit upon an idea- staff the building with an around-the-clock psychologist or analyst. The trouble was, where to find at least two, who would have to work in shifts and would be willing to open their offices in a building whose tenants consisted mainly of importer/exporters and office supply leasing firms. The solution- members of the janitorial staff would be schooled in the latest methods and theories of psychoanalysis, so there would always be someone stationed in the building who could serve as a buffer for potential jumpers. Whether it was the widespread publicity of the plan or an easing of whatever psychological malaise was hitting the city in the summer and fall of 1936, the Fleming Tower ceased to be a central meeting point for folks who want to end it all. To this day, though, there is at least one member of the janitorial staff on duty at all times who is ready and qualified to listen to any problems you may be having, free of charge. There’s even a comfortable couch in Suite 1201, if you have need for it.

Since then, most of the suicides by jumping in the Downtown and Central Corridor areas have since been confined to the City Hall Annex, completed in 1940.
– R. White

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