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Laconia Building

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Wheeling Bank and Trust Company, German Bank of Wheeling
1851–1853, 1877. 1911, Frederic F. Faris. Northeast corner of 12th and Market sts.

Washington Hall, a public meeting room designed in the Gothic Revival style, was built on this downtown corner in 1851–1853. In May and June 1861, opening sessions of the first and second Wheeling Conventions, which were instrumental in the eventual creation of West Virginia, were held in the hall. For a brief period during Wheeling's second stint as the state capital, the House of Delegates met here. After a fire in 1875, Washington Hall was rebuilt in a completely different configuration, with a prominent angled entrance on the street corner, and finished in a florid Ruskinian, or High Victorian, Gothic style. The German National Bank, which acquired the hall in 1898, sponsored a third transformation in 1911.

Architect Frederic F. Faris emphasized the angled corner entrance, but otherwise completely altered the building into one of Wheeling's most accomplished and individualistic classical essays. He treated the first two floors architecturally as a single vertical unit, terminating them with an entablature that acts as a belt course for the four stories above. The bays of the upper stories are divided by rudimentary pilasters with rococo, Corinthian-esque capitals that support a heavy entablature and solid, paneled balustrade.

According to the caption to a drawing that Ohio Architect published in its November 1915 issue, the banking room was decorated by Tiffany Studios of New York. The bank's once impressive corner entrance and banking room have been remodeled, and the first floor now houses a restaurant.

Writing Credits

Author: 
S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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