Friday, August 27, 2010

Dempsey's architecture tour: Part 2

Last weekend, we took Dempsey to one of our favorite buildings in Minnesota: the bank.

We like the bank not just because that's where the money is. This particular bank is the old National Farmer's Bank in Owatonna, designed by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright's mentor, and the guy who coined the phrase "form follows function."

Residents of Woodbury, Minnesota, may recognize this building, because there's a loving tribute/low-budget copy near the Woodbury Lakes shopping center:

The original building is a masterpiece against the odds. When Sullivan won the commission for the bank, he was widely considered a washed-up has-been. Luckily for Carl Bennett, the president of the Farmer's Bank, that made Sullivan affordable. It was still a risk, but one that Bennett was happy to take. A Harvard-educated musician, he had dreamed of a career in New York City, but was called home to Minnesota to work at the family bank. He wanted to bring a work of art to his quiet corner of prairie.

The bank, now owned by Wells Fargo, has been beautifully restored. Outside the bank, Dempsey was a good little student, listening attentively to my boring architecture lecture.

Inside, Dempsey admired the "color symphony" from the stained glass.

And of course, since this was a training trip, Dempsey practiced his retrieves in the historic building, too.

Dempsey would like to thank the good people at Wells Fargo for taking such good care of this architectural gem, and for letting us stay a little past closing. They were very accommodating to visitors, and very welcoming of our little service dog-in-training. Thank you!

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