Continuing my dialogue on my six “towers” seen on the cover of the new Horizon phone book:
The Tower That Would Have Been
Tower number four in my list is still a tower, but would have been more towering if it weren’t for a real estate bubble. This is the current Huntington Bank building on the corner opposite the Courthouse and Carlisle, at the northeast corner of Paint and Main.
A popular photo reproduced everywhere shows its predecessor, and the entire streetscape north past the Warner Hotel, along with a “Red Devil Tobacco” sign hanging above 3 North Paint. The best I can figure, that photo dates to sometime between 1896 and 1899.*
This corner lot and that three-story 1836 building was tied up in an estate for almost 50 years until it was bought by the Savings Bank Company in 1893.**
The bank had apparently been created by the Central National Bank, which had been established in 1883 in the current site of “Market No. 9” at 9 West Second. When Central National Bank moved across that street in 1887, Savings Bank moved into 9 West Second. Then after Savings Bank had owned the corner of Paint & Main for 14 years, in 1907 Central National Bank announced plans for their new building on that site.
Confused? Yeah, that’s why I don’t bother to keep my checkbook balanced, either.
Panic Trumps Tower
So, Central National Bank hired nationally renowned architect Frank Packard to give Chillicothe its “first skyscraper” – an eight-story tower. Packard is known for some of Columbus’ earliest skyscrapers, including the extant Wyandotte Hotel and Seneca Hotel.***
He also designed other buildings here, though most have been lost, including the Mount Logan Sanitarium where the OU-C childhood center is, and the Scioto Valley Traction Company station on East Main where the Amvets parking lot is.
However, the Federal Reserve had not yet been created to make predictably recurring financial “panics” into profitable depressions,**** so the one that popped up in 1907 quashed the tower idea – or rather, squashed it. It was compressed to half its height.
But you can imagine what it would have looked like – the towers of that day were modeled after classical columns: a wider, solid-looking base; simpler and repetitive narrower floors comprising the shaft; and a flaring ornamented top being the capital. So, simply repeat the third floor of the building as-built four more times to get the idea. (Hmm, sounds like a Photoshop project.)
If I recall correctly, Martha Gerber Rittinger has told me her family was the building contractor, working across the street from their earlier work in the Carlisle Building.
Instead of a steel skyscraper frame, the Central National Bank building was built in brick, but with modern tera cotta ornament and Beaux Arts styled windows.***** Look closely at the cornice – the paraphrased classical ornament is still very modernistic even a century later.
The bank itself was intended to occupy the basement and first floor, with offices to rent in the second and third floors, and space for a “lodge” or meeting hall on the fourth. (Imagine 100% more real estate there as intended!)
Another Financial Curtailment
In 1934, Great Depression-era laws started restricting banks, and so Central National Bank was liquidated and Savings Bank moved from 9 West Second to Paint & Main.
A two story addition on Main Street was built in 1953, which was probably the time the inappropriate marble cladding, casement windows, and metal sheathing were installed on the first and second floors of the original building. (Hopefully those can be removed sometime in the future to restore one of Chillicothe’s pre-eminent examples of early-20th century architecture.)
I believe Huntington National Bank absorbed Savings Bank and any remnants of Central National Bank when it occupied the building starting in 1968.
And while their neighbor was in the spotlight, Huntington hosted a meeting on renovating the Carlisle in their disused second or third floor. Hopefully, as the economy improves, that and other parts of our stubby skyscraper will become economical and inhabited, like the Carlisle.
* In the photo, the facade on 19 N. Paint is 1896 or later, and the facade on 15-17 N. Paint is pre-1899, per Pat Medert’s information. The electric trolley also appears to be a four-wheel “bobber,” though I forget the date of those. (This photo is also the prototype for one of the popular 1980s series of waercolor prints offered by Citizens’ National Bank.)
** A founding member and stockholder was Frederick Stacey, an English-native ex-Cincinnatian who was clearly financially astute. In a recurring portrait photo, he’s informally sitting in a chair, looking confident and maybe cocky, chewing on a stogie and wearing a bowler hat – which makes me consider him a Donald Trump of late-nineteenth-century Chillicothe (all politics aside). I believe he was also the namesake of a real estate development in Chillicothe’s west side.
*** For a start, see <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Packard>.
**** Yes, that’s conspiracy theory. But I’ve seen enough proof that is far beyond theory. Please don’t debate me unless you’ve looked into it yourself!
***** See similar windows on the similarly styled old Post Office two blocks south.
*(caption) Oops, not a caduceus – that’s for medicine. I’m confusing my esoteric ancient/classical western symbols. I’m guessing it might be a fasces – for executive power? Even worse on a bank! <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasces>
Of course, many details derived from Pat Medert’s volumes, especially Paint, Main, and Second streets.