Architect Louis Henri Sullivan was Frank Lloyd Wright’s mentor, the father of the skyscraper, and one of the “godfathers” of modern architecture, In the last phase of his career, Sullivan built several exquisite wee banks in the American midwest that he called “jewel boxes,” stunningly crafted small buildings celebrating the primary symbol of capitalism in each of these prosperous small towns.
The People’s Savings Bank in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was probably the least of these small jewels, but has enjoyed perhaps the best repurposing.
The bank has been restored, and is now a very fine Italian restaurant and cocktail bar – Sullivan’s Bar, appropriately – just the sort of place I could easily spend a week doing serious research. A blogger recently spent the day there:
We gawked at Allen E. Philbrick’s murals depicting “Banking, Commerce, and Industry” ... The murals feature idealised forms of capitalism in front of pristine forests and open fields. Man and nature appear in harmony with golden sunshine flooding the dimly lit bar with the promise of future prosperity -- a prosperity Cedar Rapids works towards as earnestly as the farmer with his plough.
A fine use of the elegant space. And the perfect backdrop to enjoy a Negroni or a God Father. Or several.
Build yourself one now while you watch this short clip of the first bank he brought into the world …