Vacant bank in Louisiana

Old Commercial National Bank, Shreveport Louisiana
Date added: May 19, 2023 Categories: Louisiana Commercial Bank
Southeast (1981)

When built in 1910 and for over a dozen years, the building was the tallest structure in Shreveport. It remained the tallest building in the City for 14 years until 1924 upon the completion of the 17-story Slattery Building, also by the architects Mann and Stern. The occupants were among the most powerful and wealthy in the City, which was then experiencing boom years brought on by the discovery of oil and gas in Northwestern Louisiana. However, the most famous person associated with the building was not an occupant. In the early 1920s, at the onset of his political career as Governor and Senator, Huey P. Long, as a private lawyer represented a former vice president in litigation with the Commercial National Bank.

The building was built for the Commercial National Bank, who remained in the building until 1940.

The building is the best example in Shreveport of early Mid-western skyscrapers, a la Sullivan's Wainwright Building in St. Louis. Of note is the ornate terra cotta detailing, typical of its time, on the cornice and bracketing the brick piers. The building is the largest and most richly ornamented Chicago style skyscraper in Shreveport. It is also one of less than six examples extant in Louisiana.

Building Description

The ten-story bank/office building, designed by the architectural firm of Mann and Stern of Little Rock, Arkansas, is located on the northeast corner of Texas Street, traditionally and still the major street in downtown Shreveport, and Market Street.

When built the bank was the tallest building in Shreveport by four stories. Its verticality is emphasized by piers that run the height of the building. The piers run continuously from the third through eighth floor clad in a white ceramic glazed brick. The piers are interrupted by a fascia above the ground floor, frieze above the second floor and a massive two-story entablature. A substantial portion of these horizontal members, particularly ornamental decoration, is done in white-glazed terra cotta. The frieze above the second floor reiterates the corner line adjacent three-story buildings.

The major curtain wall material on the ground, mezzanine, and second story is terra cotta. The piers and spandrels from the third through eighth are brick. The ninth and tenth floors are clad in terra cotta.

From the corner of Texas and Market, the building appears to be a massive rectilinear slab. However, the building is a rectangle in plan only on the ground and mezzanine levels, and an "L" for the remaining floors. The Texas Street elevation is divided by five bays between six piers. The wider Market Street elevation is divided by seven bays between eight piers. Of minor vertical emphasis are mullions which create a 1-2-1 window pattern within each bay.

Typical of its period, all major decorative elements are in terra cotta. These include horizontal members such as the cornice and brackets which lead the piers into each major horizontal member. The styling of these elements appear to be an eclectic cross between Sullivanesque ornaments and quasi-classical scrolls and flutes.

Decorative treatment can also be seen in the brick off-sets in the spandrels.

The only major alteration to the exterior occurred in the 1970s when the ground floor was remodeled. The alterations were extensive, with new marble cladding for the piers and a stucco fascia, anodized bronze mullions, and tinted glazing.

At this same time, United Mercantile Bank added a drive-through teller structure, with a unistrut roof on the lot next to the bank building on Market Street.

The building has an "L" shaped plan with a central corridor in each wing of the "L." This plan is repeated on every floor. There are pretentious paneled spaces on the first floor and on the top floor. There is also an ornamental steel stair. Aside from these features, the interior spaces are nondescript and somewhat dilapidated.

The building is constructed with masonry bearing walls and steel framing. It was structurally conservative though it did incorporate some of the new technology embodied in the Chicago Style. Of special note are the three part Chicago Style windows.

Old Commercial National Bank, Shreveport Louisiana Southeast (1981)
Southeast (1981)

Old Commercial National Bank, Shreveport Louisiana Southwest (1981)
Southwest (1981)

Old Commercial National Bank, Shreveport Louisiana Northeast (1981)
Northeast (1981)

Old Commercial National Bank, Shreveport Louisiana Interior detail (1981)
Interior detail (1981)

Old Commercial National Bank, Shreveport Louisiana Interior detail (1981)
Interior detail (1981)

Old Commercial National Bank, Shreveport Louisiana Interior detail (1981)
Interior detail (1981)

Old Commercial National Bank, Shreveport Louisiana Typical office interior (1981)
Typical office interior (1981)