State Savings Bank Building – Detroit, Michigan
The State Savings Bank Building (1900) at the corner of Fort and Shelby in downtown Detroit is the only major building in the state of Michigan designed by the highly influential New York firm of McKim, Mead & White. In the 112 years since it was built this small yet serious Beaux-Arts edifice has also been known as Peoples State Bank Building, Silvers Incorporated World Headquarters, The Savoyard Centre, and currently, Foundations Intergenerational Institute. White marble composition, mammoth round-arch windows with elaborately detailed trim, and fluted Ionic columns flanking the building’s recessed Fort Street entryway all contribute to the structure’s overall air of formality. Surmounting the entrance are fancily sculpted personifications of Industry and Commerce supporting a cartouche bearing the State Seal of Michigan. In 1915 the building’s back side was extended all the way to Congress Street, nearly doubling its previous depth of one half a block. The addition was planned by John Donaldson of the local firm, Donaldson & Meier.
The extent of McKim, Mead and White’s influence is best articulated by their lengthy roster of both commissions and former employees. Notable structures designed by the firm include the Brooklyn Museum Building and the Rhode Island State House. Charles Follen McKim designed for J.P. Morgan himself what is now called the McKim Building at the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan, and Stanford White designed the iconic Washington Square Arch, an ubiquitous landmark often seen in New York City-based movies and television shows. Former associates of McKim, Mead & White include Lincoln Memorial designer Henry Bacon, Woolworth Building architect Cass Gilbert, and both John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings, who went on to establish their own firm and together designed the New York Public Library Main Branch Building and the Canon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. Both Edward York and Philip Sawyer spent time with the firm before forming their own partnership and co-designing the University of Michigan’s Law Quad. As an associate William M. Kendall designed what might be considered the firm’s most influential work altogether: Manhattan’s Municipal Building, which in turn heavily influenced the designs of both Chicago’s Wrigley Building and Cleveland’s Terminal Tower. ~I♥DM