"You can "Bank" on Great Architecture here" Owatonna by yooperprof

Owatonna Travel Guide: 8 reviews and 27 photos

Home of a Louis Sullivan masterpiece


(it's now a Wells Fargo)

incredible fine detailing

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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 Louis Sullivan, one of the country's most innovative designers. Together they created a magnificent home for the National Farmer's Bank in downtown Owatonna. This brilliant collaboration of patron and architect produced what many consider the finest small-town bank in America.

After helping to make Chicago the country's architectural capital in the 1890s, Sullivan came through with a bank design for Owatonna unlike any other. Believing that function and form of a building should complement one another, he conceived a structure resembling a treasure chest, a fitting image for a bank that housed people's savings.

Sullivan chose for his bank a theme that he used often - an arch within a square - then attached it to a rectangular office building. He combined those simple, monumental shapes with complex ornamental details that bring the building to life. Set in sandstone and brick walls are two monumental stained-glass windows, each framed by a wide-band of terra cotta - a hard molded clay - accented by a narrow band of glass mosaic.

  • Last visit to Owatonna: May 2007
  • Intro Updated Jun 17, 2007
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