Winona Savings Bank | Commissioned 1913; constructed 1914 – 1916 | 204 Main St, Winona, MN 55987
Compiled by Alan Sonneman | Photos, except for the postcard, courtesy of WNB Financial
The Winona Savings Bank Building, now the Winona National Bank , is an Egyptian Revival bank building in Winona, Minnesota. The building completed in 1916, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the largest and best preserved of Minnesota’s few early-20th-century Egyptian Revival buildings.
Located at 204 Main Street in Downtown Winona, with its Egyptian Revival architectural style and Prairie School influences, the building features monumental columns in the front entrance, Italian marble interior surfaces, Tiffany stained glass windows, unique Art Deco fixtures also made by Tiffany and on the third floor a gun collection and African safari trophies of the Watkins family who were the owners of the bank.
J. R. Watkins, who had moved his company to Winona in 1885, was a manufacturer of patent medicines. By the early twentieth century, the Watkins Company was the largest direct-sales company in the world. Watkins, in 1900, had taken a controlling interest in the Winona Savings Bank, a thriving institution founded in 1874. Watkins’ daughter Grace had married E. L. King and in 1912 had commissioned Maher to design a house (Rockledge) for them situated against the bluff along the Mississippi River in Homer, MN, a few miles south of Winona.
On Watkins death in 1911 King became president of the Winona Savings Bank. In 1912 Maher was engaged to design offices for first the Watkins company offices and manufacturing facilities on Liberty St. in Winona, and then the Winona Savings Bank.
The principal facade faces Main Street and stretches 135 feet. Two low wings are joined by a towering pylon constructed of massive piers that support an architrave topped by a projecting cavetto cornice. Between the piers and flanking the entranceway are two 37-foot-high granite columns topped by capitals carved to represent American lotus flowers and leaves. Above the doors is a large art glass window created by Tiffany Studios, which supplied all the windows as well as the bronze fittings throughout the building.
The interior of the pylon serves as the main atrium and lobby for the two wings that originally functioned as separate banking halls for two banks. The ceiling of the pylon rises 50 feet above the floor and receives natural light from a large stained glass skylight. Opposite the entry is the massive Diebold vault with its large circular door weighing more than 22 tons. The walls and floors are of white Italian marble. The pylon also encloses two sets of marble stairways that lead to the mezzanine just below the large art glass window on the front facade, and then to the second floor, which originally housed men’s and women’s lounges as well as offices. Open balconies on this level provide a view of the atrium, the mezzanine, and the vault. E. L. and Grace Watkins King, who were big game hunters, decorated the upper levels with display cases featuring rifles and African hunting trophies.
The north and south facades of the two wings feature second-floor columned porches. The interior of the two banking wings are similar in plan and decor. Each has a central open area with a writing desk. As in the atrium, the walls are sheathed in white marble. The wainscoting and teller’s counters are made of green marble from the Greek island of Tinos. Each of the wings has large, three-part Tiffany art glass windows. The central portion is clear glass, flanked by panels of blue and white art glass. The art glass, as well as the marble and plaster decoration, continue the lotus motif.
- Height: 37 feet
- Diameter: 4 feet, 8 1⁄2 inches
- Weight: 32 tons
- Each column is a single granite piece.
- Each pillar rests on a 5-ton granite base.
- The granite was quarried in North Carolina and polished in Vermont.
- At the time the columns were erected in 1916, they were among the largest gray granite columns in the United States.
- Tinos Green marble because it was quarried from the Isle of Tinos, a Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea
- The white marble is called English Vein Italian white marble and was imported from the Carrara District of Italy.
- Largest Tiffany Windows in America
- 12 windows total