SULLIVAN, Louis Henry
(b. 1856, Boston, d. 1924, Chicago)

Home Building Association Bank

1914
Photo
1 North 3rd Street, Newark, Ohio

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.

Sullivan's first commission in this field was the magnificent National Farmers' Bank (1907-08) in Owatonna, Minnesota. It was followed by the People's Savings Bank (1911), Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the Merchants' Bank (1914), Grinnell, Iowa; the Home Building Association Bank (1914), Newark, Ohio; the Purdue State Bank (1914), West Lafayette, Indiana; the People's Federal Savings and Loan Association (1917-18), Sidney, Ohio; and finally the Farmers and Merchants Union Bank (1919) in Columbus, Wisconsin.

The Home Building Association Bank, also known as "Old Home," has a smaller footprint than most of Sullivan's other Midwestern banks, but it does have a full second floor and basement. Its corner location gives the two-story, concrete-and-steel frame building two primary façades. Unlike Sullivan's other banks of this period, Old Home is not clad in tinted pressed brick; instead, the exterior elevations are terra-cotta blocks in a soft gray color. A decorative band at the top of each individual block creates a subtle horizontal banding pattern over the walls, forming the backdrop for the highly ornamented terra-cotta pieces in block and relief form that distinguish the building from those around it.

Like the Sullivan's other banks, the decoration and ornamentation of Old Home has strong geometric characteristics while also appearing natural and organic; heraldic lions are part of the ornamental program. The two elevations feature tile mosaics, opalescent glass transoms, and banded, leaded-glass casement windows.

The building was much abused in the last century, mainly prior to 1973; it needs restoration.