Tag: Banks

  • Reliefs by Henry Hering on the Federal Reserve Bank Building

    Eagle by Henry Hering

    This building, put up in 1930–1931, was a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, and the Clevelanders Walker & Weeks were the architects—but with Henry Hornbostel and Eric Fisher Wood as “consulting architects.”1 Old Pa Pitt doesn’t know exactly how far the consulting went. At any rate, the architects chose sculptor Henry Hering, who had done several prominent decorations in Cleveland, to create the cast-aluminum reliefs for this building. The picture below is from 2015, but it will serve to show the placement of the reliefs:

    Federal Reserve Bank Building

    The three main figures are obviously allegorical; they seem to represent industry, agriculture, and the professions.

    Relief by Henry Hering
    Relief
    Relief
    Decoration in aluminum
    1. Source: Walter Kidney, Henry Hornbostel: An Architect’s Master Touch, where this building is no. 137 in the List of Works. ↩︎
  • Colonial Trust Company

    Colonial Trust Company Building

    Fourth Avenue, the second-biggest American financial center after Wall Street, was famous for its bank towers. But one bank decided to go long instead of high. The Colonial Trust Company built a magnificent banking hall that ran right through from Forbes Avenue to Fourth Avenue, skylit all the way. Pittsburghers passing between Fourth and Forbes, especially in cold weather, would take the route through the bank so regularly that the hall became known as Colonial Avenue.

    Frederick Osterling was the architect, and he designed this magnificent Corinthian face for the Forbes Avenue side.

    Lion’s head

    What would a bank be without its lions?

    Cartouche

    Home-repair tip: if your pediment is broken, you can fill the gap with a baroque cartouche.

    Two years ago, old Pa Pitt got pictures of the other entrances as well, so the rest of the pictures are reruns.

    The Fourth Avenue side is in the same style, but narrower:

    Fourth Avenue entrance
    Lion

    This side also has its lions.

    In 1926, the bank decided to expand by building another equally magnificent hall perpendicular to the first, with an entrance on Wood Street. Osterling was the architect again—but fashions, and Osterling’s own taste, had changed.

    Wood Street entrance

    Instead of florid Corinthian, this side is in a simpler Ionic style. The outlines are cleaner, and the wall of rectangular panes of glass and the shallow arch at the top seem almost modernistic. It is still a bravura performance, but perhaps a more perfectly controlled one.

    Fortunately the whole building has been adapted as Point Park’s University Center, so it is not going anywhere, for the near future at any rate.

  • Braddock National Bank

    Braddock National Bank, from an old postcard
    From an old postcard

    This splendid edifice cost about $100,000 when it was built in about 1905. The architects were McCollum & Dowler,1 and that Dowler is the young Press C. Dowler, who would practice architecture for two-thirds of a century and run through every style of his long lifetime, from Romanesque through Art Deco to uncompromising modernism. The building still stands today on Braddock Avenue, and the front still looks about the same.

    1. Source: The American Architect and Building News, July 23, 1904: “Braddock, Pa.—McCollom [sic] & Dowler, Pittsburg, have completed plans for a $100,000 granite and brick bank building for the Braddock National Bank.” ↩︎
  • West End Savings Bank & Trust Co.

    West End Savings Bank

    This building probably dates from the 1890s, and it looks from the style as though the well-preserved painted sign may date from the same era.

    Painted sign reading “West End Savings Bank & Trust Co.”

    The building still belongs to a kind of bank and is kept in good shape, though its ground floor was unfortunately modernized back when that seemed like a good idea.

    Pittsburgh Fire Fighter’s Federal Credit Union
    Ghost sign: Heselbarths Real Estate—Insurance, painted over West End Savings Bank & Trust Co.

    On the back, facing traffic coming down the hill from Noblestown Road, was another sign advertising the West End Savings Bank & Trust Co., but it was later painted over with an advertisement for Heselbarths Real Estate—Insurance.

  • How to Improve a Design by Alden & Harlow

    Here is how the Land Trust Company building (later the Commercial National Bank) looked in 1905:

    Land Trust Company
    From Palmer’s Pictorial Pittsburgh.

    And here is how it looks today:

    Land Trust Company today

    Much better, isn’t it?

  • Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh at Twilight

    Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh

    This rich little Beaux-Arts bank on Carson Street at 18th Street was built in 1902. We have a daylight picture of the Peoples Trust Company of Pittsburgh building from the same angle.

  • Monongahela Trust Co., Homestead

    Inscription

    This beautiful Corinthian bank has found another use, so we hope the building will be preserved now that things are looking up in Homestead.

    Monongahela Trust Co.

    Think how invitingly bright the banking hall must have been when those lofty windows were open to the light.

    Capital
  • Forbes National Bank, Oakland

    Forbes National Bank, now Citizens Bank

    This is one of the few designs by Edward Mellon that amounted to anything. In spite of boosting by his absurdly rich and powerful Mellon uncles, architect Edward Mellon played mostly second-banana roles in the architecture business. He was local architect of record on the Gulf Building, but the designing was done by Trowbridge & Livingston. He was paid for designs for the massive Mellon-financed Pitt construction that would ultimately become the Cathedral of Learning, but Pitt’s chancellor just tossed the drawings in a filing cabinet and hired Charles Z. Klauder to do something different.

    This 1930 bank, however, is all Mellon’s, and it would be hard to fault it. As an architectural message it is unambiguous: your money will be safe here. As an ornament to the streetscape it is welcome: it holds down a prominent corner and seems to cap off the block. If Edward Mellon had never accomplished anything else, he could still have been proud to point to this bank and say, “I imagined that into being.”

  • Mellon Bank, Lawrenceville

    In the 1960s, Mellon Bank built a number of modernist bank branches that reinterpreted traditional bank architecture in modern forms. Here the classical colonnade is simplified to a schematic.

  • St. Clair Savings & Trust Co., Knoxville

    St. Clair Savings & Trust Co.

    An Art Deco interpretation of traditional Doric bank architecture, with the added interest of an unusual shape: the lot forces the structure into a triangle. This substantial building from 1931 was abandoned for a while; then it was briefly the Iglesia de Cristo León de Judá, before that congregation took over an old church a few blocks away; then it was abandoned again. Now it is a store with the delightfully appropriate name “Candy Safe Market.” The exterior is a feast of artistic details.

    Inscription

    The name comes from St. Clair Township, which originally included much of Allegheny County south of the Monongahela. Today the building is in the Knoxville neighborhood of Pittsburgh, right on the border with Mount Oliver borough.

    Frieze
    Griffins

    This pair of griffins over the entrance ought to be guarding a clock, and perhaps they were at some point; but the bronze decoration where the clock should be is fairly old, if it is not original. The banner with the name of the store is hanging over this sculpture, which is why we have to look at it from this angle: old Pa Pitt thought it would be discourteous to take down the banner just to get a better picture.

    Griffin
    Detail
    Ram’s head
    Medallion
    Rear

    One of the points of the triangle.

    Oblique view