While in Minneapolis recently, we turned the corner and this building sprang into view–and it looked very familiar.
In doing a bit of research, I discovered that it was designed by Minoru Yamasaki for Northwestern National Life. It opened in 1965 and was later known as the ReliaStar Building, followed by the ING 20 Washington and is now the Voya Financial 20 Washington building. Mr. Yamasaki is well known for also designing the World Trade Center.
But, what struck me most is that it immediately reminded me of this building with its tall white arching colonnades on each side…
This building is today BMO Harris Bank at 1400 N. Gannon Drive in Hoffman Estates and is across from Hoffman Estates High School along Higgins Road. It was originally built for Lincoln Federal Savings & Loan and designed by Godfrey L. Duke, a Wheeling architect.
Lincoln Federal was based in Berwyn in 1973 when they announced that they would be building a new branch on five acres of land, just north of the Hoffman Estates Village Hall. It was originally a two building design, with the bank connecting to a six story commercial building via a one-story cultural mall. Because the area was not zoned for such high buildings, it was necessary to pursue a variance. However, for whatever reason, the six story structure nor the cultural mall was ever completed.
The bank, though, opened in June 1975 and is postmodern in style like the Northwestern National Life building. It came complete with “a pre-cast concrete colonnade of white quartz aggregate supporting a wide roof overhang.” [The Herald, May 23, 1974, Section 3] There were also eight drive in lanes covered by illuminated glass dome canopies, community meeting rooms and beautiful round fountains gracing the exterior at the Higgins/Gannon corner of the building. A berm was also created on the west side of the property to provide some separation with the adjacent housing.
In a nod to the ongoing struggle by Hoffman Estates officials to convince the U.S. Postal Service of the need for a post office, an automated, 24-hour self-service postal facility was opened in the building. Vending machines for stamps, post cards, stamped envelopes, etc. were available as well as a coin change machine and scales for weighing packages. (The village had another facility of this sort at 1001 N. Roselle Road in Hoffman Plaza.) [The Herald, June 27, 1975, Section 1]
A few years later in 1980, Lincoln Federal changed from a federally chartered bank to a state chartered bank and took on the name of Land of Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. They subsequently merged with Household Bank in 1989. Household then merged with Harris Bank in the late 1990s. The bank is currently part of the BMO Harris Bank operation.
The neat thing is that when District 211 redesigned the facades of their high schools a few years back, they took their cue for Hoffman Estates High School from the iconic structure across the street and created this:
Take a drive down Higgins and recognize the similarities. It’s nice to honor the architects who designed these spaces–whether they’re in Minneapolis or Hoffman Estates!
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
Thank you to Ginny Roncoli, Branch Manager of BMO Harris Bank, for assisting me in some of the details for this blog posting. It is much appreciated.