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Second National Bank of Saginaw Building

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1924–1925, Wirt C. Rowland of Smith, Hinchman and Grylls. 101 N. Washington Ave.
  • (Photograph by Balthazar Korab)

Saginaw's tallest building and at its best address is of fireproof construction with a steel frame and concrete floors. The plan of the lower three stories fills the dimensions of the lot, but the upper nine stories are set back seventeen feet on each side so as to admit light to the interior no matter what was constructed nearby. Designed by the firm that did the Buhl Building (1925) in Detroit and the former Grand Rapids Trust Company building (1926; 77 Monroe Center NW) in Grand Rapids, the bank indicates Saginaw's position as the center of trade and commerce for the Saginaw Valley. It is a typical early skyscraper with an eclectic application of historical detail. Large, arched windows admit light to the banking room in the three-story lower portion of the building. The nine-story tower above holds offices. The arcaded upper stories have three floors of windows behind a row of columns. A cornice projects at the roof. The top arcade and corbeled cornice are Romanesque in style.

The building contained a bank, stores and shops, and 108 offices. The banking rooms are entered through bronze doors. Bruce Boyd of New York City created the bank interior with deep green and red marbled walls; a gold, red, and blue ceiling; Corinthian columns supporting round arches; and bronze teller cages on marble bases. Thomas di Lorenzo painted the decorative ceiling.

Floodlights brilliantly lighted the smooth terra-cotta exterior walls of the upper nine stories at night so that the building was visible for miles away. This seemed like a beacon of light marking the forward progress of Saginaw. The illuminated bank rivaled in visibility the Beans sign on the Saginaw Milling Company/Michigan Bean Company's dry bean elevator, later, in 1947, replaced by the thirty-five-foot-high red neon Jack Rabbit Bean Bunny sign (Klein-Berger Company grain elevator; 1447 N. Niagara Street) to proclaim the fame of Saginaw as a dry bean producer and handler. The neon bunny was restored and relit in 1997.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Second National Bank of Saginaw Building", [Saginaw, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 317-317.

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