Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bills' Banks, Part Four

I've chosen to pair the two banks in this post, not for their proximity in location but for their proximity of design.   One was in Ripon and the other in Stevens Point, both were Romanesque in style.  In the Oshkosh Northwestern Weekly's biographical article about architect Waters of June 25, 1891 a Ripon bank is listed but not a bank in Stevens Point.  Among the many images found in the Waters archives of the Oshkosh Public Museum was a building of rough hewn stone with a pediment holding a set of small arched topped windows but no identification.  While researching the Ripon opera house I noticed in a photograph of the town square a similar building and concluded it was the Waters' designed bank listed in the newspaper. 
The bank in Ripon was the German National Bank which was built in 1891, its' construction unheralded by any of the Oshkosh press.  Constructed of rough hewn limestone it was perhaps thirty feet wide and two stories high.  On the ground floor to the left was the entrance; double doors with an arched transom, flanked by twin columns which supported a stone lintel and pediment and to the right of the doors was a large square window.  Above the first floor window were two windows and another set of smaller windows to the left just above the doors.  The stone work was of regular shaped blocks, either rectangular or square and laid in even courses.  With the onset of World War one the bank changed its' name to the First National Bank and replaced the building in the early 1920's with a large Art Deco Style edifice.
The mystery of the unidentified bank remained. I had no idea where to look but searched old images from cities around the state, old postcards of Stevens Point brought an answer when I spotted the building in a picture of Main Street.  The accompanying explanation designated the building as the Citizens National Bank, built in 1895.  The bank was a  tour de force of Romanesque Style architecture with retail space in the basement and two floors above for banking and office use.  The first floor sat on a high foundation and the front elevation was dominated by two features; to the left a large arched window and at the right the front door.  The entrance was gained by a short flight of steps and as with the Ripon bank there was a set double doors with an arched transom set in a portico with twin pillars on each side supporting brackets.  These brackets held up a stone lintel inscribed the the word "BANK" and above that  was a pediment rising past the windows of the second floor.  The fenestration of the second floor was like that of the Ripon bank with two large windows above the arched window of the first floor and two smaller windows above the door.  The second floor widows were double hung window with transoms, above the windows to the left were two square lights and three lights above the smaller windows to the right.  A pediment with a set of triplet window capped the facade.  The stone work was of regular shaped blocks, either square or rectangular not laid in even courses but in a random pattern.  Large stone lintels topped the openings of the second floor. In the 1907 book Along the Wisconsin River by A. Decker there was this quote, " Few banks in the country are housed in finer quarters, the elegant building it occupies being not an enduring monument to the business sagacity of its backers, but it is a rich and magnificent acquisition to the architectural splendor of the city."  The splendor of the architecture was appreciated only until 1921 when the facade was replaced by a neoclassical style front.


  1. I never knew of the Stevens point bank. Do you know who lee and Eileen weigert were. They were the local experts when it came to waters. They have both passed but I remember them telling me of a school building in Stevens point he designed there. I just never had a chance to check into it.

  2. Dave, I knew the Weigerts, it was Lee that got me interested in m. Waters. The old Fifth Ward school in Stevens Point was a Waters job, the same plans were used on Neenahs' 3rd Ward school. See the post of 2/17/13.