History & Tourism

Landmarks of Mansfield: The Farmers Bank Building

17 Oct , 2019  

It rises some 157 feet above the pavement of Park Avenue West, a 53,000 square foot structure that speaks to the optimism and economic health of early 20th century Mansfield.

The Farmers Bank Building was constructed in 1929. In that decade and the one following, many Midwestern cities saw the building of Classical and Art Deco skyscrapers, many of which, like the Farmers Bank Building, remain the tallest in their respective communities. Each provided a dramatic refutation that its city was a “backwater,” instead proclaiming that it had “arrived” in the modern world.

farmersThe venerable Farmers Bank was first organized about 1847 by James Purdy as the Farmer’s Branch of the Ohio State Bank. It was initially housed in the southwest corner of the Square. When gold was discovered in California in the late 1840s, a branch of Farmers Bank was established in Sacramento from which the local bank obtained gold coin.

Little expense was spared when Farmers Bank built their new headquarters. According to the book, “The American Skyscraper 1850-1940: A Celebration of Height” by Joseph J. Korom, when built, “Exterior walls were carefully finished with creamy Indiana limestone and “Farmers Bank Building” was prominently carved above the skyscraper’s main, arched entrance; perched above was a large carved eagle, fanciful swags, and foliate designs.” The building has a stepped profile as it ascends to its full, twelve story height.

The building’s architect was the well-known local firm of Althouse & Jones. William L. Althouse, the primary architect, was trained in the studio of the most prolific architect of late nineteenth and early twentieth century north central Ohio architecture, Vernon Redding. Not surprisingly, once constructed, the firm’s offices were moved to the new building.

In its day, the Farmers Bank Building has housed transmission equipment and a beacon for airplane traffic.

Names for the building changed as the bank which anchored its ground floor space was sold. It successively became the Bank One Building, and then the Chase Building. After the last banking occupant moved out in November 2014, the owner turned to the community for ideas on renaming the structure.

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