“Solid and enduring” is how C. Emlen Urban described his design intent for Stevens High School during the dedication ceremonies on Dec. 22, 1905. However, there is no more suitable description than “solid and enduring” to describe the four freestanding banks that he authored between 1910 and 1923. The century-old buildings remain today, virtually untouched.
Union National Mount Joy Bank commissioned Urban in 1910 to design a structure that would speak to strength and security, and remind customers that their accounts were in safekeeping. He chose a massive masonry limestone symmetrical structure in the Beaux Arts style to reflect that message. Classic Greek design elements, including paired two-story Ionic columns, flank pilasters and an oversized entablature with parapet, reinforcing strength and security.
In 1912, Milton S. Hershey commissioned Urban to design a building that would impress the public and encourage people to start saving for the future. The two-story marble, brick and granite Renaissance-style structure includes a well-proportioned Greek pediment and entablature resting on paired columns.
The interior is as impressive as the exterior, with marble flooring, mahogany millwork and an imposing vault door. A 30-day wall clock, flanked by lions representing time and strength, tops the vault. Located at the intersection of Cocoa and Chocolate avenues in Hershey, Hershey Trust Co. still retains its impressive public stature.
Urban’s third bank, Lititz Springs National Bank, was designed in 1922 and holds the distinction of being his only bank with a corner entrance. The two-story masonry structure, at the corner of the borough’s Main and Broad streets, softens the intersection with its curved facade and thoughtful detailing. Although another imposing and impressive design, this bank features generous amounts of windows and natural light.
Ephrata National Bank retained Urban to design its new building in 1923. His fourth and final freestanding bank embodies all his knowledge of bank designs to date, and presents another fine example of thoughtful and creative design innovation.
A combination of Vermont marble columns and English bond brick on the facade emulates the Hershey Trust Building, and the eagle perched above the main entry resembles the one at Lititz Springs National Bank. The sky-lit interior, utilizing American walnut millwork, is organized around a 26-ton vault door and frame. More than 10,000 visitors toured the aptly described “landmark of admiration” on dedication day, July 11, 1925.
What do all of his banks have in common?
They include granite, marble or limestone facades, in addition to classic Ionic columns, entablatures and parapets.
What does Ephrata National Bank have that none of the others has?
Urban’s steamship trunk from his 1932 Mediterranean cruise on the S.S Roma.
Is the Keystone National Bank in Manheim a C. Emlen Urban design?
Although the Keystone National Bank (1925) appears to be a clone of the Union National Mount Joy Bank (1910), there is no evidence that Urban was the architect of record.