Wells Fargo Building (Davenport, Iowa)
American Commercial and Savings Bank
|Location||201-209 Main St,
|Area||1 acre (0.40 ha)|
|Architect||Weary and Alford|
|Architectural style||Classical Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||83002395|
|Added to NRHP||July 7, 1983|
The Wells Fargo Building is a mixed-use facility located in Downtown Davenport, Iowa, United States. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as American Commercial and Savings Bank, its original name. The building houses commercial, office and residential space. It is the tallest building in the Quad Cities.
Henry Lischer and H.H. Anderson formed German Savings Bank in 1869. By 1916 it was the largest bank in Iowa. Because of anti-German sentiments that resulted from World War I the bank’s name was changed to American Commercial and Savings Bank.
In the 1920s American Commercial and Savings Bank absorbed the Security Savings Bank. As a result of the Great Depression it absorbed Iowa National Bank, the Citizens Trust and Savings Bank, and the Farmers and Merchants Bank. It was one of five banks in the city that was still active when President Franklin Roosevelt declared the Emergency Banking Act in 1933. The others included: Bechtel Trust Company, Northwest Davenport Savings Bank, Union Savings Bank and Trust, and Home Savings Bank. It was one of only two banks to re-open in Davenport. The bank changed its name at this time to Davenport Bank and Trust Company under the direction of E.P. Adler. By 1936 it rebuilt itself to become the second largest bank in Iowa.
V.O. Figge became associated with the bank in 1931 as a bank examiner and served as vice-president, president and CEO until it was sold to Norwest Bank in 1992. It became Wells Fargo Bank after the merger of the two banks in November 1998. In 2005 the building was purchased by Financial District Properties. A $7.5 million renovation project in 2013 converted the building's fifth, ninth, tenth and eleventh floors into 29 market rate apartments. Wells Fargo Bank remains alongside other commercial and residential tenants.
The building was designed by the Chicago architectural firm of Weary and Alford. It was built by Walsh-Kahl Construction Company from 1926-1927. The new building reflected the significance of the bank in the community. The main building is twelve stories with a steel frame covered with limestone. The lower story façade contains an ornate metal entrance, columns with stylized capitals and recessed Roman arched windows. The rest of the building provides conventional office and residential space. The building is capped by a pedimented temple and a three-story-tall clock tower. The total height of the building is 255 feet (78 m), which makes it the tallest building in the Quad City area. A modern parking structure and additional space for the bank was built adjacent to the west side of the building in the 1970s.
The building has retained its original banking room. It is a multi-storied space with an elaborately painted ceiling. The space is lit by the large Roman arched windows on the east elevation. The ceiling is a canopy of groin vaults and is painted in a multi-colored design. A painting by Davenport artist Hiram Thompsen of the signing of the treaty between the Sauk and Meskwaki tribes and the US government after the Black Hawk War hangs prominently on the south wall. It was installed in 1928. The original wrought iron teller “cages” remain and the rest of the interior features dark wood and marble elements.
The ceiling decoration of the main banking room was design by Chicago artist Alexander Rinoskopf and was executed by the Davenport decorating firm of Hartman and Sedding. Ten men created the stencils on 85 yards (78 m) of paper and two artists rendered the work in oils. The Italian Renaissance style of work features spirals, rosettes, festoons, griffins, swans and masks. In addition there are also ten murals that are 6 feet (2 m) high, which provide a chronological history of Davenport from its earliest times to the American Civil War. The murals depict the arrival of the first Europeans to this part of the Mississippi River Valley (1654); the Sauk warrior Black Hawk (1812); the battle on Davenport's Credit Island in the War of 1812 (1814); the last bison chased from what is now the Quad Cities (1816); the construction of Fort Armstrong on what is now Arsenal Island (1817); the first steamboat up the Mississippi River (1823); the establishment of Davenport and immigration to the new town (1836); Davenport's first school (1838); the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi River (1856); and the Civil War training camps in that operated in Davenport (1861).
The largest mural hangs on the south wall of the building and depicts the signing of the Black Hawk Treaty in September 1832. The treay was signed at what is now Fifth and Farnam Streets in Davenport. Hiram Thompsen, who created the painting, was a native of Cincinnati and studied at the Chicago Art Institute and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. He was a commercial artist who went on to do advertising art work for Davenport-based Gordon-Van Tine and Montgomery Ward. The painting measures 15 feet (5 m) by 9 feet (3 m). It features the likenesses of General Winfield Scott, his interpreter and Davenport founder Antoine LeClaire, and the Native American chiefs Keokuk and Pashapaho.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- Svendsen, Marls A., Bowers, Martha H (1982). Davenport where the Mississippi runs west: A Survey of Davenport History & Architecture. Davenport, Iowa: City of Davenport. p. 5-4.
- Svendsen, 5-5.
- Bill Wundram (1995-07-18). "In tribute to 'Bubbles'". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
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- Alma Gaul (2014-01-26). "Banking on it". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
- "Wells Fargo Building". Emporis. Retrieved 2012-01-09.
- "American Commercial and Savings Bank" (PDF). Davenport Public Library. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
- Rachelle Treiber (2002-01-04). "Tallest Buildings in Q-C". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
- Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Iowa. Iowa: A Guide to the Hawkeye State. New York: Hastings House. p. 224.
- Alma Gaul (2014-01-26). "Lobby ceiling is artistic, historic 'masterpiece'". Quad-City Times. Retrieved 2014-03-28.