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State Bank Building

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1914. 801 Water St.
  • (Photograph by Bill Guerin, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

The financial panics of 1893 and 1907 closed banks and left depositors with nothing. To assuage public concern about the stability of their financial institutions, bankers nationwide sought to project an image of solidity, permanence, and wealth by erecting impressive buildings like this temple-front Beaux-Arts classical example. The facade of the two-story brick building is clad with terra-cotta. Colossal attached columns and piers in an interpretation of the Doric order support an entablature embellished with triglyphs and the bank’s name. Above, a pediment is enriched by a shield-like cartouche at center and palmette acroteria at the apex and corners. A stable image did not necessarily mean stability. In November 1934, the State Bank fell victim to the Great Depression and closed its doors. Fortunately for depositors, the new administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in one of its first acts in 1933, had created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, making it possible for customers to recover their money.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "State Bank Building", [Sauk City, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 486-486.

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