Banks Built in the Dutch Style
When I was a young lad of twelve, my teacher gave our class an assignment to create a career book. It seemed like an impossible task at the time, but Teddy, my next-door neighbor was a year older and had completed the same assignment when he was in eighth grade. He showed me his career book and I copied every idea he offered. His was about being a doctor, but I thought architecture would be more likely a career I would like.
I started by looking at books about famous architects, then I cut fifty, maybe more, pictures of famous buildings from travel brochures, magazines, and newspapers and finally wrote the required five paragraphs (Wow! That was a lot in those days) telling my teacher why and how I would become an architect. I don’t remember for sure, but sometime in the process of this project I learned that a degree in architecture would cost my parents nearly as much as a degree in medicine. Needless to say, other career options were explored during high school, and I walked away with a bachelor’s degree without any debt.
Even so, I never lost my interest in architecture.
In an attempt to identify the architectural style on a few of my recently acquired postcards, I used Google and keyed in “banks built in Dutch style architecture.” The search results offered three results: one in Princeton, New Jersey, another in Lewes, Delaware, and a third on Church Square in Pretoria, South Africa. Interestingly the Princeton result was identical to a postcard I had purchased a few days before.
The card I bought shows the Princeton Bank & Trust building at 12 – 14 Nassau Street in Princeton, New Jersey. It was mailed on July 5, 1913, by a messenger who thought, “… this looks like a nice place to put your money.” As you can see the Dutch revival architecture is fascinating and amusing at the same time. All the standard elements of 17th and 18th century Dutch styling are present: stepped façade gable, terra cotta roof tiles, carved stonework, alternating colored brickwork and decorative window frames and shutters.
The second such bank building found in my Google search was located in Lewes, Delaware. Surely, my friend Bill will have a postcard of that building. I emailed and asked, and a half-hour later this image appeared in my inbox.
Bill’s card shows the Zwaanendael Museum. This museum building was first a bank built in southern Delaware to honor the 300th anniversary of the state’s first European settlement, Zwaanendael, This building models the former City Hall in Hoorn, the Netherlands. It has nearly the same 17th century Dutch elements as the Princeton Bank except for the dormer windows on what is surely the third floor and there is atop the building’s front façade a statue of David Pietersen de Vries, leader of the expedition that founded Swanendael in 1631.
It may be assumed that someday in the future, I’ll buy a card of the bank in South Africa, but for now, I wonder if other Dutch style banks exist in America? If you know of one, please comment on this article with a location that I may research. Thanks.