National Bank of Commerce
Broadway at Olive Street
Architect: Isaac Taylor
Designed in 1901 by famed local architect Isaac Taylor, this 11-story office tower was the fourth home of the National Bank of Commerce, one of the largest banks in the country at the time. The bank was a major player in supplying cash and credit to smaller regional banks prior to the 1913 founding of the Federal Reserve system, which standardized and stabilized the banking system. The bank's presence on Broadway helped establish this section of downtown as St. Louis's financial center.
The bank was founded in 1857 under the name Building and Savings Association, with quarters at 2nd and Pine. It then moved to 4th and Olive, taking the name Bank of Commerce in 1875. In 1885 the bank moved again, to the Romanesque Chicago School Old Jaccard Building at Broadway and Olive, northeast corner (now the site of the Marquette Building.) In 1902, the Isaac Taylor structure was completed, rising directly across the street from the Jaccard Building. The new structure contained 198 offices and was constructed at a cost of $1.2 million.
The bank expanded rapidly, erecting a third building at the south end of the same block only a few years after this one.
In its later years, this was the Chamber of Commerce Building. By mid-century, it had lost its cornice as well as the elaborate domed cupola.
The Chamber of Commerce Building was destroyed in 1977, along with the neighboring Lutheran Building and V.A. Building, to make way for a parking lot. Preservation organizations had almost no chance to review or contest the decision, and demolition continued unimpeded despite a requested delay from the city council.
Five years later, the empty lot became the site of the St. Louis Place office building, completed in 1983.
National Bank of Commerce - early photograph at the Mercantile Library
National Bank of Commerce Building - 1914 photograph at the Mercantile Library
Architect's rendering, published in American Architect and Building News, July 7 1902.
Photograph circa 1903, looking north up Broadway. The National Bank of Commerce's rear-facing lightwell can be seen, as well as the old Jaccard Building across the street. From the HABS collection; original here.
Shorn of its cornice, the Chamber of Commerce Building (at left) is looking rather frayed in this 1970s view from the Globe-Democrat. The photograph ran in a news item announcing the impending demolition of the building and its two neighbors.