Saturday, March 21, 2020

Evolution of a City Corner

I recently was working on a project for a client and while I was digging through old photos, I came across these two in the digital library at the University of Cincinnati.

This was the Citizens' National Bank building that stood on the southeast corner of Fourth and Main Streets. Of course I had to know more!

Before this building was constructed, this corner was occupied by four brick buildings as noted on this map from 1891.
1891 Sanborn Insurance Map

The Cincinnati Enquirer; Sat, March 8, 1905; p.16
Those buildings were demolished for the construction of the bank between 1905 and 1906. It was designed by Cincinnati's own Samuel Hannaford. During construction, a few mishaps occurred. Two men almost lost their lives when four floors collapsed into the cellar. One survived by being under a stairwell, while the other hung onto a ledge in the wall until rescued.

The Cincinnati Enquirer; Thu, June 15, 1905; p.12
But the issues didn't stop there! The discovery of old, shoddy workmanship reared its head once foundation work began. The foundation of the neighboring building encroached by 28 or more inches because rocks were just piled up to support the walls. The building had to be lifted and the foundation rebuilt, adding a few extra thousands of dollars and putting the bank project behind schedule and .

The Cincinnati Enquirer; Fri, Sep 8, 1905; p.5
Work continued for over a year, until the bank finally opened in October of 1906. Over the years, Citizens National Bank became the Bank of Commerce, which was sold to Provident Bank in 1930.
From the Lawrence Brand Collection at the Kenton County Library
In 1960, the building went through a major renovation that preserved the exterior, but the inside was modernized.
The Cincinnati Enquirer; Fri, Nov 18, 1960; p.34
1968 Hamilton County Auditor
However, by 1979, downtown was going through a rebuilding phase which brought many of the highrise buildings we have today. This bank building was an unfortunate victim of the times. In its place, the Atrium I Building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, was constructed in 1981. It is now known as the Omnicare Center.

Google Streetview April 2019