The Rise and Fall of the Marble Bank Building.

This is the story of a long-lost building, the Marble Bank Building (1893), in Spokane, Washington. Its history is well-documented here, it was a building of small size but amazing opulence. The bank that constructed it failed mere weeks before it was to move into the building, the Old National Bank ultimately bought the building and became its first tenant. By the mid-20th Century it was owned by Fidelity National Bank, which moved out of the aging building in 1954; by then the shining marble monument had become grimy and in need of repairs. Unfortunately for the Marble Bank Building, in the 1950s modernism was in and neoclassicism was considered fusty and obsolete, and the 62-year-old landmark was unceremoniously demolished in 1955.

The Marble Bank Building / Spokane, Washington - postmark 1920
Uploaded by Steve Frenkel

Here’s what replaced it, an expansion of The Crescent, a department store which occupied a lovely 1919-built edifice on the other end of the block.

riverside street spokane washington 1950s
Uploaded by Ryan Khatam

The new building was certainly much more modern, exemplifying the minimalist trend in 1950s architecture, but it also seems a bit…underwhelming compared to the grand temple that it replaced.

However it doesn’t end here, the “new” building was itself torn down early 1990s and in its place rose…

The Sterling Bank Building (1994). A bank building once again occupies the corner, constructed in that odd blend of modernism and historicism popular in the ’80s and ’90s.

However it seems to have been constructed with knowledge of what came before, and perhaps regret for its shortsighted destruction. Nearly 40 years after the Roman temple-styled bank was torn down and a century after it was originally constructed, a new bank, complete with columns and pediment, brought some measure of the old bank’s grandeur back to the street corner.


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