Citizens Bank Building (Jonesboro)
The Citizens Bank Building in Jonesboro (Craighead County) is a seven-story structure located on the northwestern corner of the intersection of Washington Street and Main Street, due north of the Craighead County Courthouse. The composite steel-frame building with a flat roof was originally home to commercial banking on the ground level and offices on the upper floors. The building is an excellent and unique example of the International Style of architecture because of its flat roof without a ledge, metal windows set flush with the outer walls, smooth wall surfaces with minimal decorative detailing, and asymmetrical elevations. The building, which was vacated in 2000, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 15, 2020.
What is now Arkansas State University (ASU) conducted its first session of school in 1909 on the second floor of a brick building formerly located on this site. In 1934, the Citizens Bank Company had begun operations in downtown Jonesboro, taking up residence in the former American Trust Company building at the northeastern corner of Washington Avenue and Main Street. For nearly twenty years, from the early 1930s until around 1950, Mercantile Bank and Citizens Bank were the only financial establishments in Jonesboro. During this time, the city’s population grew tremendously, from 10,326 in 1930 to 16,310 in 1950. This led to such a significant increase in business that, in 1950, another institution also began serving the people of Jonesboro, Peoples National Bank, which took up residence in the former Bank of Jonesboro building.
Morris L. McKinney, president of Citizens Bank at the time, decided that a new, larger facility was needed for the bank to continue to serve its customers properly. In 1953, Citizens Bank purchased two buildings across the street from its original location, at 100 and 102 W. Washington, and commissioned the Little Rock (Pulaski County) architectural firm McAninch and Mahnker to create the design for its new building. The building was initially constructed in 1954, with a three-story addition completed in 1962 designed by local firm Elmer A. Stuck and Associates, which was later renamed Stuck, Frier, Lane & Scott, Inc. After the addition was completed, the Citizens Bank Building became the tallest building in downtown Jonesboro. When it was finished, the seven-story building symbolized the post–World War II economic and construction boom experienced in Jonesboro.
The setting around the building is relatively flat with a slight downward slope to the west and north, which is typical for this area of Jonesboro. The Citizens Bank Building is rectangular in plan, being forty-eight feet, four inches wide and ninety feet deep. It is eighty-five feet, four inches tall on the south side but is roughly 102 feet tall on the eastern side, due to the sloping terrain and presence of a mechanical penthouse. It rests on a continuous concrete foundation and has a composite steel frame structure. The structure is capped with a flat roof, which is covered in a rubber membrane. There are seven floors to the building above ground and a single basement level below. Historically, the ground level was occupied solely by a bank, while the upper six levels housed office spaces.
The exterior of the building is characterized by alternating ribbons of glass and porcelain-enamel panels framed by painted brick columns on the south and east façade. The north and west façades are characterized by large spans of painted brick with openings of various sizes. The east façade has an implied tower, which rises higher than the rest of the building. This tower, located in the northeast corner of the building, contains the elevators and stairs.
By 2000, the large building was deemed unnecessary and was vacated by the company.
For additional information:
“Citizens Bank Building.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas State Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CG0138.nr.pdf (accessed December 30, 2020).
J. Mason Toms
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
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