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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

SOCIETY CORP. (SOCIETY FOR SAVINGS) BUILDING - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The SOCIETY CORP. (SOCIETY FOR SAVINGS) BUILDING, on the north side of PUBLIC SQUARE, is the most important remaining building in Cleveland by John Wellborn Root of the influential Chicago firm of Burnham & Root. The officers of the Society for Savings made a special attempt to bring together the industrial and decorative arts in the building, which was erected in 1889-90. Its design combines elements of the Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance styles exemplified by the short granite pillars of the ground-story Gothic arcade, the arches of different styles in the upper stories, and the massive corners with their turrets reaching to 152'. While the red sandstone outer walls are load-bearing and self-supporting, the interior structure was built of steel columns and diagonally braced floors, in effect independent of the outer walls.

Inside, the 26' high banking room is one of the most gorgeously decorated spaces in the city. Its ceiling is a stained-glass skylight in the tradition of the Arts & Crafts movement. The Gothic decorative scheme was planned by Chicago decorator Wm. Pretyman, and the murals were designed by the English painter and illustrator Wm. Crane. Above the 1st floor a 9-story light court surrounded with balconies was later covered over at several floors necessitating artificial illumination for the glass ceiling. As part of the $343 million Cleveland Marriott-SOCIETY CENTER development in the early 1990s, the Society for Savings Bldg. was integrated with the neighboring 57-story Society Tower, while the interior was completely restored by architects van Dijk, Pace, Westlake & Partners.

Last Modified: 30 Jun 1997 11:43:12 AM

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