Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Uptown Bank Building
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Uptown Bank Building (1926) Marshall & Fox, architects; (1928) addition, Huszagh & Hill, architects /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

On February 10, 1924 the Chicago Tribune published an illustration of a new project designed by architects Marshall & Fox. The drawing showed a very grand building sitting at the corner of Broadway and Lawrence in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. The client was the Sheridan Trust & Savings Bank who knew the area well since they were located in a smaller building just across the street at Broadway & Racine Avenue. Organized in 1909, Sheridan built a two-story, neo-classical building on a triangular piece of land created by the intersecting streets in 1914, but with business roaring in the 1920s, the financial institution was in need of more space. The Marshall & Fox plan not only provided more square footage for the bank, but included several floors of leasable office space to generate additional income, as well as providing for future expansion by constructing a structural support system that could carry the load of an additional four stories in the future - if need be. And in 1928 that's exactly what happened, only this time a different pair of architects were hired. But Huszagh & Hill's addition blended-in perfectly with the original terra-cotta facade.

[Uptown Bank Building, 4753 N. Broadway, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

The structure was the largest bank building outside of the city's Loop business district. The bank also liked to boast that it was second largest white terra-cotta clad structure in Chicago - the first place title going to the Wrigley Building. The building was a prominent local landmark, standing at the intersection of one of the city's premiere entertainment districts dominated by the largest movie palace in Chicago - the massive, 4300-seat Uptown Theatre. Across Broadway, and directly across Racine from Sheridan's former two-story home, stood the 2500-seat Riviera Theatre, and just a half a block to the east, the $2 million, 8,000 capacity, Spanish Baroque inspired Aragon Ballroom. It was a rip-roaring time in Uptown, then on October 29, 1929 the stock market crashed and some big changes were in store for the neighborhood and the country.

    [Uptown Bank Building, Uptown Square National Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

By the summer of 1931 Sheridan Turst & Savings Bank was out-of-business and in receivership. It was not the only area bank to fall, Fidelity Trust & Savings - located nearby on Wilson Avenue just east of Broadway in the old Wilson Theatre Building - collapsed as well, but was soon reorganized by members of Chicago's First National Bank into the Uptown State Bank. In 1937, Uptown leased the 31,000 square feet of space that Sheridan had once occupied, and moved into their new location.

  [Uptown Bank Building /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Uptown Bank weathered the tumult of the 1930s, powered through the war years, boomed in the 50s, survived the turbulent 60s, the shaky 70s and 80s, but couldn't withstand the consolidations of the early 2000s. After nearly 75 years in business - 66 of which were spent in the second largest terra-cotta faced building in Chicago - the financial institution was purchased in 2003 by Bridgeview Bank. And with ATM's, online banking, direct deposit, debit cards, and smart phone technology, fewer and fewer people had to come to the bank to transact business, which meant fewer and fewer tellers, so the beautifully preserved ornate banking hall was closed to the public. Except that is, for the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Open House weekend.

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