Farmers' and Merchants' Union Bank
Sullivan, Louis H.
Frontal view, from north; The last phase in Sullivan's career was largely devoted to designing banks in small towns in the Midwest. Midwestern agriculture thrived in the early 20th century, leading to a revolution in rural banking and the proliferation of small institutions sympathetic to local needs. These buildings posed no problems in the expression of structure, as they were all low, load-bearing brick constructions; they did, however, raise important questions of institutional expression. Sullivan's solution was to make them monumental, as befitted banks, but 'modern' and unrelated to historical precedent in order to communicate their transformed character. They are the final and most richly impressive demonstrations of his ornamental skill, with their rich use of polychromy in brick and terracotta. Furthermore, the design of each was sensitively adapted to its setting, usually at the end of the main street facing the town square (as at Owatonna, Grinnell, Newark, Sidney and Columbus). At Columbus an arcade down the side of the bank frames the town's Civil War monument. Although these buildings were in remote areas, the care bestowed on them by Sullivan suggests that here he had finally found appreciative recipients for his exquisite talents. Source: Grove Art Online; http://www.groveart.com/ (accessed 1/27/2008)
Type of Workbank (building)
architectural exteriors, business, commerce and trade, Twentieth century, Modernist
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