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National Farmers' Bank (1908) | by chicagogeek
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National Farmers' Bank (1908)

NRHP #71000441

101 N. Cedar Avenue

Owatonna, Minnesota

Architect: Louis Sullivan


Banker Carl Bennett wanted more than a prominent new building to house his family's business. He wanted a work of art. Bennett's search for an architect led him in 1906 to Chicago architect Louis Sullivan, one of the country's most inventive designers. Together their brilliant collaboration of patron and architect produced what many consider the finest small-town bank in America, the first of Sullivan's "jewel boxes". The building is bathed in a symphony of color, as Sullivan described it. Green and brown terra cotta panels and blue and gold glass mosaic bands contrast with the reddish brick walls and the red sandstone base that anchors the bank to its site, giving depositors a sense of security. Two arched stained glass windows designed by Louis J. Millet are mirrored on the interior by murals of dairy and harvest scenes by Oskar Gross. The lavish organic decorative elements, including four 18-foot-tall cast iron electroliers and teller window grilles, were designed by chief draftsman George Grant Elmslie and cast by Winslow Brothers Company (owned by William Winslow, for whom Frank Lloyd Wright designed an iconic house). Today this National Historic Landmark is a Wells Fargo Bank.

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Taken on July 13, 2012