THE FIRST STATE BANK OF MANLIUS
Max P. Seibel organized the First State Bank of Manlius, Illinois on March 21, 1902. Its beginning capital was $25,000. The original Board of Directors consisted of William C. Dale, President; Max P. Seibel, cashier; P. J. Anderson, Rufus A. Lathrop, and W.S. Rudiger, Directors. They officially opened for business in their first building located on Main Street on June 14, 1902. In 1914, the board sought out the talent of Parker Noble Berry to design a new modern facility to be located on Maple Avenue. His father, John Wesley Berry, contracted and built the building, which was finished and ready for occupancy in 1915. The First State Bank of Manlius closed its doors in March 1933, falling victim to hard economic times during the Great Depression. Frank Johnson was President of First State Bank when it closed. Even though the bank failed, leaving a bad stigma for years, its fame would come to be associated with its architecture and design style.
One cannot talk about the bank without detailing the way in which Berry ingeniously designed it. He worked for the master, Louis Sullivan when he accepted this commission on his own time. The building demonstrates how well Berry was able to learn Sullivan’s technique and adapt it to create his own style. The building consists of two stories constructed out of reddish-brown paving bricks forming an interesting oriental carpet design. The brick is also embellished with ornamental terra cotta medallions. In the front stand are two brick piers capped each with a self-watering, gold terra cotta urn. To each side of the urns, originally were two beautifully designed “Prairie Style” stained glass windows. The base of the building is recessed consisting of a wall of glass. Six sections of Luxfer prisms form the tallest part of the wall resting on the front plate glass window allowing immense amounts of natural light in the interior. If the light hits the main plate glass window just right, the outline of the First State Bank of Manlius can still be read today. (Stoner Sign re-painted the words “First State Bank” in 24k gold on the front window in August 2007).
The interior banking suite is basically unaltered since the bank closed in 1933. The only apparent alteration is the removal of the teller cages. The teller cages were reconstructed in January 2011 using photographs found in our bank. The vault is massive and extends into the basement. It is the focus of the main area of the interior of the first floor of the bank. This was a state-of-the-art vault as it was operated on a “Yale Triple Time Lock” which the bank boasted about. The original paint still adorns the walls (interior walls were repainted in October 2009 during our continuing renovation of the bank) and the beautiful light fixtures are still suspended from the ceilings and hang on the walls. In many ways, the time has stood still, as some of the canceled checks written upon the bank are tucked away in the corner of the vault. Ledgers have also been left on the vault shelves. 1918 Manlius election ballots are stored in the upstairs Vault. The bank has been very well preserved in this “time capsule”.
In 1975, Congressman Thomas Railsback announced that the First State Bank of Manlius, Illinois had been entered into the National Register of Historic Places. It was recognized for its architectural elements. Many architects and history buffs have made the pilgrimage to Manlius over the years, just to peer in the windows and take pictures of this Prarie School building designed by Berry.
PARKER NOBLE BERRY
Parker Noble Berry was born September 2, 1888, in Hastings, Nebraska to John and Elvetta Noble Berry. His family lived there briefly and soon returned to Bureau County, Illinois where they lived previously. Berry’s father and grandfather were both building contractors. His father also owned and operated a planning mill in Princeton, Illinois.
Talent was apparent as early as age 16 when Berry designed his first home on Elm Street in Princeton. In 1906 he graduated class president and valedictorian of Princeton High School. In the fall of 1907, he attended the University of Illinois until late 1909, leaving saying he was not learning the new American type of design. He moved to Chicago and became friends with Kristian Schneider of the American Terra Cotta Company. Schneider, the chief modeler of Louis Sullivan’s ornamental designs, introduced Berry to Sullivan. Sullivan had a keen eye for talent as he had employed, for a time, Frank Lloyd Wright and George Grant Elmslie. Berry then became Sullivan’s chief draftsman from 1909 to 1917. He became the first applicant in the State of Illinois to score a perfect exam on his Illinois State boards, which he took in order to receive his architect’s license in 1912. The following year in Chicago he married Grace Robertson from Buda, IL, and never had any children.
The First State Bank of Manlius, Illinois contracted the aspiring architect in 1914 to design their modern facility. Berry, still employed by Sullivan, accepted this commission on his own time. The bank resembles a similar design to the Algona, Iowa bank built the previous year. The Algona bank was credited to Sullivan but Berry obviously had a large hand in it and was even listed in his obituary as his design. The Manlius bank was constructed the closest to the architect’s original specifications, as the contractor was his father, John Wesley Berry.
Berry designed Iowa City’s first apartment building in 1916 known as the Summit. The original plans were very ornate and had to be scaled back to reduce the cost. He accepted another local commission in 1917 for the Adeline Prouty Old Ladies Home in Princeton, currently known as Greenfield. Only the first stage of his design was ever completed, as this commission caused the sever in his employment from Sullivan. During this time, Berry was also involved with the remodeling of the Farmer’s National Bank and the Princeton Dry Goods Store, both on North Main in Princeton. He also worked on commissions in Chicago, most notably the Interstate National Bank in Hegewisch. Like the Manlius bank, it failed and was demolished after the Great Depression. Berry was well on his way to establishing himself as one of the most esteemed architects of the Prairie School tradition. He had just left the office of Louis Sullivan, the man some hail as the “Father of Modern Architecture,” after serving him as chief draftsman for eight years. Berry had opened his own office in Chicago and was busy working on a new addition to the Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton, IL, his hometown. Berry died of pneumonia at age 30 on December 16, 1918, while home for his father-in-law’s funeral. Perhaps Berry would have been more famous than Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan had he survived. The hospital project would be completed but Berry’s original plans would be altered considerably. To date, the First State Bank of Manlius remains Berry’s only commercial building built true to his original design, unaltered and intact, making it of considerable significance. The bank’s original line drawings, as well as some of Berry’s others, were donated to the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent archives by Berry’s colleague and friend Homer Sailor. (Mark Glafka was able to obtain copies of Parker Noble Berry’s three original Design Drawings dated 01-14-1914 from the Art Institute of Chicago in March 2009.)
Grave Site of Parker Noble Berry, Oakland Cemetery, 1013 Park Avenue West, Princeton, Illinois.
HISTORY OF FIRST STATE BANK OF MANLIUS LAND TRANSACTIONS OF LOCATION #1 AND #2
Location # 1: Main Street
North part of Lot 8, Block IV (on the west side of Main Street): On April 16, 1902, it was conveyed by Max P. Seibel to The First State Bank of Manlius, a corporation organized by Max P. Seibel. The building on this property housed The First State Bank, with William C. Dale as its first President, and also housed a general store managed by E. E. Ames. After the First State Bank failed in 1933, this land and building, on Dec. 26, 1933, was conveyed to William H. Dabler, by C. A. Symington, the receiver of the First State Bank of Manlius. It was used to house the first Manlius High School, which was organized in 1913, with the first graduation being in 1914; the first graduate was Laura Andrews. (A new Manlius High School was built and opened in 1921 on the North West edge of Manlius. An addition was built in 1931 and in June 1994, Manlius High School closed its doors. On August 21, 1995, the new Bureau Valley High School opened its doors.) It was also, at one time, used for housing, etc. Fred Raabe lived there at one time.
North part of Lot 8, Block IV (on Main Street): After an error by First National Bank of Manlius to transfer the title of First State Bank (Maple Avenue location) to Earl Stickel, he purchased the north part of Lot 8, Block IV (which included land and old original First State Bank building), located on the west side of Main Street in Manlius, from Drucilla Dabler and it was conveyed to him on January 17, 1949. On December 30, 1948, Lot 9 was conveyed to Earl Stickel by Paul McMahon, nephew of Michael Dwyer and Mary McMahon. Earl Stickel then moved his office to this location.
Lot 9: On January 24, 1902, it was conveyed to Michael Dwyer by Max P Seibel. In August 1936, it was leased by Johnson Oil Refining Co. with the option to buy from Michael Dwyer, Lester Casteel, and Lessee. Lester Casteel and Howard Rollo used it for their business (Rollo and Casteel Welding Shop.) On December 30, 1948, it was conveyed to Earl Stickel by Paul McMahon, nephew of Michael Dwyer, and his wife Mary McMahon. On July 31, 1976, North 35′ of lot 8 and Lot 9 were conveyed to Manlius Oil Co. by Cora Stickel.
Location # 2: Maple Avenue
In the years since the First State Bank, located on Maple Avenue, closed its doors, it has been used for storage and, at one time, an office, leaving the interior undisturbed. After it failed in 1933, the First State Bank was purchased by the First National Bank of Manlius and they used it for storage. Earl Stickel rented the bank building for E.C. Stickel Oil Co. and Bollman Oil Company in the late 1930s. He intended on purchasing it; however, in late 1948, it was discovered that the President of First National Bank, had failed to transfer the title of The First State Bank to Mr. Stickel. On January 17, 1949, Mr. Stickel purchased the original First State Bank building, located on Main Street, from Drucilla Dabler (formerly the old Casteel Welding shop) and moved his business to this location. The First National Bank later sold the First State Bank building located on Maple Avenue to Jim Boender for a nominal amount. In May 2002, Sandy Boender sold the building to the Manlius Historical Society.
In November 2011, Sandy Boender donated the adjacent lot to the East to the Manlius Historical Society.
In December 2012, Pat Glafka donated the bronze plaques on the front of the building, which is really outstanding.