Video: Ask Geoffrey on Chicago Tonight What Happened to Immel State Bank?

“Immel State Bank was one of the thousands of banks across the United States that closed in the banking panics of 1930 and 1931 during the Great Depression. After some large public banks failed, such as the New York Bank of the United States in 1930, fears of other banks failing spread across the country. Ironically, this often actually caused the bank to close. A Hollywood depiction of a bank run was in the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life in which George Bailey explains to panicked customers, ‘You’re thinking of this place all wrong, as if I had the money back in a safe! The money’s not here. Your money’s in Joe’s house, it’s in Fred’s house, and a hundred others.’

“The banking panics inspired President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to say, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ in his 1933 inaugural address.

“Many banks that closed in 1931 looked like Greek and Roman temples. The grand neo-classical style that made them look steadfast and trustworthy. Many have long since been torn down, but the Immel building is among a few that still stand. After the Immel State Bank closed, the building became the Kelling Nut Company offices, and in 1998, a banquet hall named Michelle’s Ballroom.

“A few other banks that closed in 1931 and are still standing include the former Kimbell Trust and Savings in Logan Square, which is today a medical clinic; the terracotta masterpiece Laramie State Bank in the Austin neighborhood, which has been vacant for some years and is now endangered due to deferred maintenance; the Lincoln Trust and Savings Bank in the North Center neighborhood, now a commercial and residential development, as is the former West Town State Bank building at Western and Madison.

“Probably the most interesting reuse of a closed bank is the former Noel State Bank building built in 1919 at Milwaukee and North Avenues in Wicker Park. Since 2012 it’s been the world’s fanciest Walgreens, with a coffered ceiling and stained glass skylight. They even re-used the bank’s vault – today, it’s where you can stock up on vitamins.”

Read or watch the full story at WTTW Chicago.


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