Monday, July 19, 2021

Reminders of vanished glory ...

Someone asked the other day about this decorative panel that hangs at the head of the stars to the lower level galleries of the Lucas County Historical Society's Lewis Building in Chariton.

Actually, we now have two of these panels. This one, a gift of the late Oran Garrett, was donated many years ago; the most recent arrival accompanied the Hass desk, donated by Curt Hass during June of 2020. It now hangs above the desk in the Vredenburg Gallery.

The key to their origin is the monogram at the center of each --- "FNB" or First National Bank.

Garrett was a long-time director of the bank; Albert R. Hass, first owner of the desk, president and/or chairman of the board from 1949 until 1963.

The panels originally were embedded in the base cabinetry of an extraordinarily elaborate set of mahogany banking furniture installed in First National Bank, then located in the Union Block, during the fall of 1899.

This photo was taken not long after the remodel. Pictured are (from left) Frank R. Crocker, cashier; Willard P. Beem, assistant cashier; William B. "Bert" Beem, his younger brother, collector; and Clarence Blake, probably the bookkeeper. Bank owner Smith H. Mallory's portrait hangs above the vault.

Here's a closer view of one of the monogram panels.

This type of banking cabinetry became increasingly obsolete as the years passed and generally was modified at first and then replaced entirely.

That's what happened at First National Bank, but the monogram panels were saved, most likely presented to banking officers at the time the grand woodwork vanished almost entirely.

The Union Block itself, built in 1881, was demolished during the 1970s and the one-story building that now houses Great Western Bank constructed in its place.

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