Peoples Federal Savings and Loan Association in Lexington is a brilliantly colored jewel of decorative modernism dating from 1962. Turquoise glazed brick walls and a precast folded plate roof set the diminutive bank apart from its neighbors as much today as when it was first built. Peoples Federal Savings and Loan Association purchased the 0.4 acre lot on Broadway in 1959 and awarded the design contract to the Lexington firm of Bayless, Clotfelter and Associates in 1960.
Architect Charles Bayless maintained the then residential scale of Broadway by setting the building far back from the street and landscaping the lot to fit in with the houses that surrounded it. The bank building measures 68 by 62 feet and the whole is set on a raised podium seven steps above the street.
The five-bay-wide central pavilion with its dramatic, 15-foot-high, folded plate roof is flanked by 8-foot-high flat-roofed wings. The wings and two bays of the central pavilion are covered with brilliant turquoise blue ceramic brick tiles set in white mortar, while the other three bays have floor-to-ceiling glazed walls. The three glass bays are set back 18 feet to create an expansive portico. The arrangement of the solid and glass walls is reversed on the rear of the building, where there are two glass bays and three walled bays, the latter with transom lights above the 8-foot wall. The combined effect is fluid, dynamic, and elegant. A drive-thru window was added at an unknown date on the rear wall. The steel supports, concrete elements, and porcelain-enamel fascia are all painted white. The exposed structural steel columns taper by four inches from top to bottom; copper gutters are fitted inside the columns. Interior functions are clearly defined on the exterior: the tall central pavilion is essentially one large banking room, while the manager’s office, director’s office, vault, restrooms, and mechanical rooms are all located in the two low flanking wings.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Broadway began to transform from a residential neighborhood to a commercial district. Peoples Federal is now flanked by a multistory concrete parking garage and a condominium tower. It was slated for demolition in 2015 to make way for a Cineplex. Private citizens and city government officials sought a path to preservation of the building and helped place it on the National Register of Historic Places. While the building was initially met with some derision from locals, it was eventually embraced as an outstanding example of decorative modernism in the Bluegrass Region. Peoples Federal is easily visible from the street but is currently unoccupied.
“Peoples Federal Savings & Loan Association,” Fayette County, Kentucky. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 2016. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.