Chicago National Bank (Central Trust Company of Illinois)
Life Span: 1900-1933
Location: 125 West Monroe street
Architect: Jenney, Mundie & Jensen
The lot upon which the Central Trust Company Illinois’ building now stands (1914) was cleared by the Great Fire of 1871, and remained vacant until 1880, when the first building was erected upon it and was occupied by Rand & McNally.
Chicago National Bank Building
When the new building of the Chicago National Bank was projected it was aimed to produce a structure which would immediately suggest to the observer that it was a bank. How well that idea has been carried out by Jenney & Mundie, the architects, it needs but a glance at the bank building to show Of the Corinthian order of architecture, with ninety feet front on Monroe Street, and four immense columns fifty feet in height ornamenting its facade, the building is a symbol of solidity and strength. The entrance pavilion, flanked by the Corinthian columns, is brought into greater prominence by being constructed to the building line, while the east and west bays, on either side of it, recede six feet to the line on which the front wall of the building is constructed To a depth of fifty feet the bank building is four stories in height. The remainder of the lot, 138 feet deep, is covered by the banking-room, one story in height and roofed entirely with glass. The four-story portion of the building is occupied on the first floor by the directors’ room and the office of the president of the bank on one side of the marble entrance hall, and by the Home Savings Bank on the other side; on the second and third floors are the offices of the Equitable Trust Company, and on the fourth floor is a cafe designed exclusively for the officers and employees of the Chicago National Bank, the Home Savings Bank, the Equitable Trust Company, and the Chicago Safe Deposit Company These institutions occupy the entire building. The basement is fitted with the largest, most complete, and most luxurious safe deposit vaults in the world. Such, in brief is the arrangement of this model banking building which has. in the short time it has been occupied, become one of the sights of the city.
Home Savings Bank
Passing between the two great columns of Bedford stone which flank the entrance, the visitor finds on his left the entrance to the Home Savings Bank. No more complete and compact room could be designed for a savings institution Marble, mahogany, and bronze have been used to build this savings bank. The floor is of marble, the walls of veined statuary marble from a famed Italian quarry, and the counters and wainscots of green Vermont marble. All of the railings are of gleaming bronze, and wherever wood is used, in finish or furniture, it is mahogany.
Chicago National Bank
Clerical Work Space
The electric light comes softened from the ceiling through deep-green glass globes, and an artist’s taste has been exercised in the colorings and decorations. In front and Interior Home near the east wall is the private office of the President, with a directors’ room opening from it, all finished in the prevailing marble and mahogany. The marble counter at which the business of the savings bank is conducted extends along two sides of the room, leaving ample space for depositors to transact their banking affairs, and at the same time not requiring them to cover a great extent of floor space in going from one window to another. The bank, as arranged, is a model of compactness, convenience, and comfort for depositors, coupled with beauty and taste in its equipment and decoration.
Central Trust Company of Illinois
Beyond the rooms of the savings bank, after passing through a doorway framed in the whitest of Carrara marble and ornamented with a magnificent bronze grille, the visitor steps into the great spacious bank-room. It is a delight to the eye of even the veriest tyro in things artistic. Standing there in that magnificent doorway and viewing the splendid spectacle gleaming in the flood of light, which pours through the glass-paneled ceiling, the observer finds it difficult to realize that this is a bank, a place of commercialism. Rather would he imagine it was an art gallery, hung round with masterpieces for an exhibition, and expressing the artistic in every line and tint of its own construction and coloring. The great open space before the counters, which partially inclose three sides of the room, is floored with Vermont marble. The counters, behind which the scores of tellers and clerks are busy with their duties, are of green marble, as are the bases. But the walls of the great room to a point a few feet below the line of the ceiling are covered with inlaid panels of Pavanazzo marble, paneled in veined statuary marble from Carrara. The effect is as beautiful as it is striking and artistic. Nothing in the marble quarries of the western continent was of a high enough quality for the walls of the Chicago National Bank building. Across the seas, to the quarries centuries old, from which the marble for the world’s masterpieces in sculpture was taken, went the order for the precious stuff which now gleams upon the walls of the bank room. With it came masters in handicraft, Italians made cunning in their art by centuries of inheritance and with infinite care and patience the marble slabs were fitted together and cemented into place. The Palace of the Doges has no finer walls or more artistically constructed than those of this banking room, nor could there be such, for these walls are made of the rarest and most beautiful marble that man has yet wrested from the bosom of the earth.
Vaults of Chicago National Bank
Featuring the Mural Paintings of Lawrence C. Earle of Montclair, N. J.
The following sixteen mural paintings executed by Lawrence C. Earle, Montclair, New Jersey, for the Chicago National Bank Building, Chicago. They are painted on canvas, sixteen feet long by nine feet high, and are set in segmental frames over great panels of Pavanazzo marble, the paintings being secured by a small gilt molding. The room is one hundred and thirty-five feet long, eighty feet wide, and forty-four feet high, and is sumptuous in its appointments in every particular. Mr. Earle’s paintings are the most interesting feature of the decoration, though decidedly not the most costly. Symbolism, which so often finds its way into mural paintings, has been eschewed, and the canvases instead present scenes in the history of the city in which the building is located.
The Winter Quarters Of Father Marquette, 1674
The Kinzie House, Near Fort Dearborn, 1804.
The First Fort Dearborn, 1803
The Chicago River Near Wolf Point, 1833
Frink & Walker’s Stage Coach Office, 1850.
The Last Council Of The Pottawatomies, 1833.
The First Bridge Across The Chicago River, 1834
The First Grain Elevator In Chicago, 1838.
The First Railway Station In Chicago, 1849
The Great Flood In The Chicago River, 1849.
The Illinois Central Railroad Station, 1856
Clark Street, Between Lake and Randolph, 1857
The Ogden Residence After The Fire Of 1871
The Rock Cut In The Drainage Canal, 1899
The World’s Columbian Exposition Of 1893
The Chicago River At Lake Street Bridge, 1900
Chicago National Bank Building
Central Trust Company of Illinois
Central Trust Bank
Sources: Chicago Pictorial Historical, Chicago National Bank, 1902
Old Monroe Street, Notes on the Monroe Street of Early Chicago Days, Edwin F. Mack, 1914