Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Weekly Feature: The Age of Main Street Banking

Tomorrow will begin the first installment of a new weekly feature here at The Steeplechase: The Age of Main Street Banking. A name which I've borrowed from the Nebraska State Historical Society, which has an entire historical register category devoted to this particular genre.

I've been wanting to do a weekly feature for some time now, but it's been difficult to decide exactly what to focus on. As you may know, I try to do a fair amount of historical and architectural research on the churches that I photograph. This requires a fairly hefty time commitment, so for a weekly feature I've been looking for something that would be light on content and heavy on photos.

And that's how I settled on the subject of main street banks. While the primary focus of this blog is church art and architecture, hopefully this new feature will appeal to the same audience.

In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, nearly all Nebraska communities had at least one bank. It was a necessity in an era much less mobile than our own. In order to convince the public of their stability and trustworthiness, these financial institutions turned to architecture to convey this notion. The result: substantial, well-built, ornate structures. While the Depression and rural demographic shifts brought an end to many of these banks, the buildings themselves often remain a downtown fixture; a reminder of the age of main street banking.

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