The end of an era? The demolition of the Standard Bank Building at 95th and Western

January 11, 2010

 

Standard Bank (photo by Lee Bey)
Standard Bank (photo by Lee Bey)

The Standard Bank building was a minor icon on the Southwest Side: a sober and symmetrical five-story concrete office‚  block that hit the ground with panache--in the form of‚  a spherical, glassy Space Age Modern banking lobby.

The building has held the northwest corner of 95th and Western in Evergreen Park since the 1960s.‚  Its grip slips daily now, however. A demolition crew is at work, clearing the spot for a new Standard Bank building. In this economy it's good to know that it's only the building that's being lost and not an entire bank.

But the building's demolition is worth noting if only because it's another reminder that Postwar/MidCen buildings are among the most endangered ranks of architecture in and around Chicago. Very few are given protected landmark status, even as they reach their golden years. In postwar suburbia, where these buildings could be a celebrated part of a town's heritage, there is often no binding landmark ordinances to protect them at all.

Standard Bank (photo by Lee Bey)
Standard Bank (photo by Lee Bey)

Built as Lawn Savings & Loan in 1962‚  for $3 million,  Standard Bank was a sweet example of‚  good postwar Main Street modernism, which often used then-unusual forms to grab the eye. You wonder if there was a message behind pairing a spaceship-like lobby with that seriously buttoned-down office tower.‚  Modernity backed by tradition, perhaps?

A Tribune story written when Lawn Savings was shuttered by the government in the late 1960s‚  said the 50,000 sq ft building had a cafeteria, a community room and office space for lease on the upper floor.‚  Standard Bank moved to the building in 1970.

Standard Bank in action, 2004 (photo by Lee Bey)
Standard Bank in action, 2004 (photo by Lee Bey

Standard Bank (photo by Lee Bey)
Standard Bank (photo by Lee Bey)

A single-story bank building will replace the old bank, according to Standard officials. The new structure will have sustainable features. Demolition should wrap up within weeks.