Nicola Motto was a successful fruit and confectionary dealer. Proud of the symbol of his prosperity, Motto placed his name in large letters at the top of the building, naming it the Nicola Motto Block. The style is Renaissance Revival in the Flat Iron shape. The Block featured multiple store fronts and was architecturally significant for the curved glass windows in the wood paneled apex facing Barnard Park / South Green.
Beginning in 1893, living and working in the building, Motto ran his "Motto Fruits" business until his death in 1899 or 1900. His sons, John and Joseph, who were clerks in the business, continued to live in the building with their mother, Rose. With John remaining as clerk, Joseph took over the business, operating as "Joseph Motto Fruits" on Maple Avenue