made their appearance in Texas towns after hotels and saloons, but
before opera houses and city halls. They occupied the most prominent
corners of the town square and their doors opened to both streets.
Their architecture rivaled the county courthouse and many were designed
by the same architects. With marble counters and bronze teller's cages,
small town banks had the interior prestige of post offices. Their
exteriors were Greco-Roman temples with columns that reached to the
heavens. They were impregnable fortresses where the businessman kept
his gold, the tradesman kept his silver and where newsboys kept their
Then the unthinkable happened - they failed.
the Great Depression the architectural prestige of the bank was tarnished.
Their vaults were just full of paper (and forclosures) and their columns
proved to be hollow. In the 50s they modernized. They added automatic
doors, and time/ temperature signs that never worked properly. All
across Texas these once noble buildings were left vacant or became
Mexican restaurants and antique stores. Only in the downtowns of larger
cities do they retain some of the dignity they once had. Here is a
celebration of bank architecture in Texas - from the big cities to
towns too small to have a drive-up window.
© John Troesser