About the Manlius Historical Society

Our History

The Manlius Historical Society is continuing to make progress on the preservation and restoration of the historical First State Bank of Manlius, Illinois, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.  The architect for the bank was Parker Noble Berry, a Princeton, Illinois, graduate.  He studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, both under the supervision of Louis Sullivan, who was the founder of the Prairie School style of architecture.  The bank opened for business in 1915.  Unfortunately, the First State Bank of Manlius fell victim to the Great Depression in 1933.  This structure is the only remaining unaltered building of Parker Noble Berry.

The First State Bank of Manlius has many unusual characteristics.  The windows are made of beautiful glass with words and designs etched into it and it has a unique floor of cork over cement.  Giant urns adorn the front of the building and they each have their own watering system.  The bank contains two large vaults (one below the other), two more safes and a unique alarm and wiring system that was ahead of it’s time.  The interior of the bank has high wooden beams and two of the rooms contain skylights.

A unique aspect of the First State Bank of Manlius is that most of the contents are still intact.  It almost looks as though the employees turned off the lights, locked the door, and the bank is still awaiting their return.  The teller stations had been removed but some of them have been found inside the bank.  They were reconstructed by Ed Behrens in January 2011, using old photographs found in the bank.

With generous donations, fundraisers, drawdowns, and many donations from many people, work inside the First State Bank of Manlius is progressing.  The interior painting of the walls is complete. Interior paint was donated by Sherman Williams of Peru and Princeton.  Most of the beautiful cherry wood trim and woodworking has been refurbished.  Four honor student interns from the Electrical class of Sauk Valley Community College, under the watchful eye of their instructor, Loren Niemeyer, replaced much of the electric wiring system, outlets, etc.  They donated their labor for this project.  Roger Johnson, a Manlius High School graduate, duplicated and donated the two original small stained glass windows located at the front of the building.

With the help of these people and countless others who have donated their time, knowledge, or financial assistance, the Manlius Historical Society is continuing to preserve and restore the First State Bank of Manlius one dollar at a time.  We invite all of you to come see our progress.

Our Goals

  • To restore the only commercial building left standing designed by Parker Noble Berry.
  • To create a museum to promote this historical landmark and our rich local history.
  • To develop educational programs with local history in mind.

2023 Manlius Historical Society Version 1.0a