I can be pretty bold about taking pictures of historic buildings or just any building that I consider architecturally impressive, but one place I’ve never even tried to take a picture of is the inside of my bank, Trustmark Bank in downtown Jackson. Originally known as First National Bank, the building was one of several boldly Modernist skyscrapers that took their place on the Jackson skyline in the 1950s (see for instance that wacky colorful Petroleum Building, built in 1958).
I had forgotten until just now that I’ve been posting about Trustmark Bank since Oct 2009. In that first post, I had a postcard of the building when it was new, along with an article about the building when it opened.
The article quoted in that October 2009 post first appeared in The American Banker, Sept. 27, 1956 edition, and it very briefly described the main banking floor in a photo caption:
Designed in aluminum and walnut, lobby is spacious with ‘floating’ ceiling panels.”
Compare that description with this postcard of the banking floor I recently grabbed off of eBay:
If you were to walk inside Trustmark today, you would recognize the scene, although I believe the floating panels have been painted blue. Unfortunately, the great orange (or burnt-umber if you prefer) couches are gone, as are the white naugahyde chairs. Otherwise though most of the long line of teller windows is still there, the terrazzo floor, wood and aluminum finishes, even the customer desks to write out your deposit slips (although those ash trays seem to have gone away–surely someone kept one or two to use for something else?).
What’s missing today though when I go to cash a check is people. When I first became a Trustmark customer back in the 1990s, the banking floor was a place of activity, going and coming, lots of business being transacted. Back then you might be in a line of 10 people, but you knew you would move quickly because there were 5 or 6 teller windows open. Now, there may be no line at all, even though there are only 2 or 3 windows open. I worry about this great open Modern space, now that banking has changed to a series of bytes passing through the ether. The long line of teller windows has gotten shorter over the years, and the open space to the right in the photo above has recently been half-partitioned. This work, nicely crafted as far as I can tell, does diminish the great feeling of openness in the space.
Even with these changes, I always enjoy heading downtown to my bank, just to be able to spend time on the banking floor. Maybe one of these days, I’ll get my nerve up to ask the security guard if I can take a picture or two.
Related post: What Jackson’s Trustmark Building Might Have Looked Like