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First National Bank of Adams

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1920, Purcell and Elmslie. 322 Main St.
  • (Photograph by Richard Kronick)

The First National Bank of Adams was built in 1920, just before Purcell and Elmslie’s partnership ended. Located just a few miles west of Leroy, the building was the most highly decorated of the firm’s three Mower County banks. Like the other two banks, the First National Bank is on a Main Street corner and its two major facades are faced with dark red brick. The front entrance is flanked by rows of multipane casement windows. Each of these sets of windows is surrounded by a brick frame accented by square, polychrome, terra-cotta medallions at the corners. A matching band of terra-cotta, since removed, formed a lintel over the front entry, which is flanked by brick piers crowned with terra-cotta capitals. Each pier culminates in a custom-designed iron structure that supports an art glass lighting fixture. All of this is surmounted by a large, rectangular, polychrome art glass window with terra-cotta medallions at its corners. The side facade is similarly adorned with a broad art glass window framed by two large piers and two smaller piers that project from the wall surface and are crowned with terra-cotta capitals. The building’s large art glass windows are good examples of the style George Elmslie learned during his twenty years with Louis Sullivan. Centered in each glass panel is a large V-shaped element that is a stylized form of the sepals of a flower.

Unfortunately, time has not been good to the Adams bank. Wood window sills have deteriorated. One of the building’s most beautiful and interesting elements, the corbelled brick cornice with a top row of terra-cotta tiles and a large terra-cotta cartouche centered over the main entrance, has been removed. The cornice and cartouche were replaced with bricks that are not corbelled and do not match the original bricks. For many years, the bank building has housed the Adams Municipal Liquor Store.


Millett, Larry. The Curve of the Arch: The Story of Louis Sullivan's Owatonna Bank. Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1985.

Purcell, William Gray and George Feick, Jr. to Carl K. Bennett, April 13, 1910. William Gray Purcell Papers (N4), Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Purcell, William Gray. Parabiography for 1910. Unpublished manuscript, c. 1950. William Gray Purcell Papers (N4), Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Roberts, Dr. Norene A., “First National Bank of Adams,” Mower County, Minnesota. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1970. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

Writing Credits

Richard L. Kronick
Frank Edgerton Martin
Victoria M. Young



  • 1920



Richard L. Kronick, "First National Bank of Adams", [Adams, Minnesota], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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