Going Down: The Citizen’s Bank Building in East Alton, IL

By on February 25, 2016

From BELT STL:
by Toby Weiss

On February 4, 2016, word came from Alton Daily News that the former Citizens Savings & Loan was going down.

This fanciful cylinder has long-delighted mid-century modern fans not simply because it’s a round building (and people love a round building, yes?) but that it also retains most of its swanky ornamentation and it has a “draw bridge.”

The Citizens Bank building, by architect Alvin K. Stolze, is a rare time capsule of 1964 that inspires retro lust and ideas of what it could be in the future.

The only things missing from the current-day structure is the fountains under the suspension bridge and the yellow and red glass bricks that gave the southern exposure a regimented Mondrian feel.

This detail shot shows the textured glass block and the vandal damage done to it over the years of vacancy. We can also see how the red and yellow blocks were spray painted over, giving the building a crossword puzzle update in the early 2000s. Remnants of yellow and red peek through the slivers when a projectile pierces the facade.

My father, Richard Weiss, installed the non-brick glass on this building in 1964 when he worked for Rainbow Glass. He explained that brick layers were responsible for the glass block curtain wall, and that, even then, his glazier brethren thought it a folly to use so much glass block for two reasons: there’s no insulation properties and glass block in reach of people will always be damaged, both unintentionally and intentionally.

After the “oh wow” of spotting this building as you drive by, the walk up the bridge to this entrance renders you speechless. This looks like a jet set bar with an under-the-sea theme!

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