Last week Justin Schmidt sent us this incredible old illustration of Rochester Savings Bank. Justin writes, “I thought you would enjoy this; in my collection of Rochester ephemera, I came across this page in The American Architect (Sept. 20, 1928 issue) that shows the ‘complete’ design for the old Rochester Savings and Loan building. I never knew it was incomplete!”
Uh, neither did we. But it turns out, it’s true…
In 1928, Rochester Savings Bank opened this beautiful building, in the Byzantine architectural style at 40 Franklin Street (across from Sibley’s). The image above shows the building as it looked in 1928. What most people don’t know is that its foundation and steel skeleton were designed to support fourteen stories.
In a report to the Landmark Society dated 8/16/63, Harley J. McKee wrote:
Of course, it only ever reached four stories. And although the bank grew into a billion-dollar institution, Rochester Savings Bank was swallowed up by larger financial firms after Federal deregulations in the 1980s.
The building is V-shaped to take advantage of its site between Franklin Street and Liberty Pole Way. Its exterior construction is of Kato stone from quarries in Minnesota. The interior includes glass mosaics on the walls, a marble mosaic floor, marble columns and a wood-coffered ceiling painted by American muralist Ezra Winter.
This was the first commercial building in Rochester to be designated a historic landmark. In the book Landmarks of Rochester and Monroe County Paul Malo wrote, “Few cathedrals of the New World evidence the grandeur of this 1928 ‘temple of commerce.'”
Rochester Savings Bank has (or had) a long and significant history in the banking industry. While not at this particular branch, George Eastman worked at RSB for a time in the 1870s. And, according to the D&C , the bank pioneered a payroll-savings plan for workers early in the 20th century and started a popular “school savings plan” for kids in 1915.
The building still serves as a Citizen Bank location today, and is also home to RIT’s Center for Urban Entrepreneurship .
Tags: architecture, downtown Rochester, Ezra Winter, George Eastman, Harley J. McKee, J. Foster Warner, John B. Pike & Sons, Justin Schmidt, Kato stone, McKim, Mead & White, RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship (CUE), Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rochester NY, Rochester Savings and Loan, Rochester Savings Bank, The American Architect
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