In this video, we photograph the over-the-top design style of a bank that’s been in service in a small Illinois town since 1882
Historic architecture (whether preserved or in decay) is one of my favorite subjects. I consider it an honor to preserve these throwbacks to the past in the form of photography. On this trip to Southern Illinois, I saw plenty of buildings in several small towns that were in a state of neglect, but this old bank building in the small town of McLeansboro has been maintained and kept in use for 139 years.
Cloud State Bank (now in business as Peoples National Bank) in McLeansboro, Illinois
This is the Cloud State Bank, built in 1882, now called People’s National Bank. Designed by the Reid Brothers of Evansville, Indiana, who later designed the famous Hotel del Coronado near San Diego, California.
While this architecture seems to fall into the category of “Plenty of money, but no taste,” I happen to love this building because it’s so confident and exuberant — perfect for a young expanding nation. A lot of architecture critics disagree though. They especially seem to dislike its mixture of architectural styles. The National Registry of Historic Places said this and I’m quoting: “It is representative of the florid Second Empire style from France, and has many characteristics of an unusual building for this part of the country.”
The report goes on to say, “Elements of many architectural styles can be found; indeed, complexity and elaborateness of form mark every aspect of its construction. It is truly an original and unique statement.”
According to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “The clock in the tower, made in Boston, was installed in 1886, and its 800 pound bell could be heard for miles.”
The bank was built by a local businessman named Aaron G. Cloud. In the video we see a beautiful old library next to the bank. That was originally the home of Aaron G. Cloud.
McCoy Memorial Library in McLeansboro, Illinois
I love the library next door to the bank, even if it is tame by comparison. Built in 1884, this big old house was originally the home of Aaron G. Cloud, builder of the bank next door. It was designed by the Reid Brothers, the same firm that designed the bank. It was converted into its new function as the McCoy Memorial Library in 1922.
The McCoy Memorial Library has nine fireplaces and contains a style of late Victorian design known as Eastlake style.
Black and white photographs available as fine art prints
Fine art prints in a wide variety of sizes are available. My photographs are printed on museum-quality baryta surface paper. They are archival and intended to be heirloom pieces treasured by future generations of your family.
Cloud State Bank (Peoples National Bank) application for recognition by the National Registry of Historic Places
Below are a few pages from the bank’s application to be recognized as a historically important structure. It was accepted and joined the list in 1978.
Below are a few smart phone photographs shot on location.
Thanks for reading.
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McLeansboro.us, “McCoy Memorial Library“
National Archives, National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program Records: Illinois, 1964 – 2013. Records of the National Park Service, 1785 – 2006.
Peoples National Bank, “About Us“
Society of Architectural Historians, SAH Archipedia, “People’s National Bank“
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Student Life and Culture Archives, “Christmas 1971: The Cloud State Bank“
Wikipedia, “Aaron G. Cloud House“
Wikipedia, “Cloud State Bank“
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I am not sure where the busted up dead part of town that starts this video. I have lived here most of my life and its not like that
Hi Heather — you’re right — those scenes were shot in other towns on the way to McLeansboro. When I made this video, it never occurred to me that it would cause confusion but I’ve had several comments asking about that.