by Denise A. Hunyadi and John D. Hays
Architect: George B. Post & Sons
1905 - 1908
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The Cleveland Trust Company was established in 1894, in Cleveland, Ohio. Within a decade, following a merger with the Western Reserve Trust Company in 1903, the organization found that it had outgrown its rented offices in the Williamson Building on Public Square and initiated plans for a new building of its own.

In 1905 the company engaged the architectural firm of George B. Post & Sons of New York and Cleveland, to build a domed Italian Renaissance-style rotunda at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East Ninth Street. The charge to the architects was to design a monumental three-story structure to house a grand banking hall running the full height of the building. This initially proved difficult, as the two streets intersect at an acute angle, creating an awkwardly assymetric parcel of land. After considerable study, the architects chose a design for the rotunda incorporating thirteen bays, which allowed them to center each of the two street entrances directly in line with a bay. The resulting space is an elegant banking hall which offers little hint of its asymmetry.

The building’s white granite facade is decorated with massive bronze doors and grilles, which are at the same time both ornamental and functional. Fluted Corinthian columns support central pediments by sculptor Karl Bitter along both the Euclid Avenue and East Ninth Street frontage. The more significant pediment, the Allegorization of the Main Springs of Wealth, is located above the principal entrance on Euclid Avenue. It contains elements representing the commerce of Land and Water, as well as a central grouping which symbolizes the interchange of resources and the accumulation of wealth through the banking industry.

The rotunda itself is 61 feet in diameter and 85 feet in height, and is thoroughly lit through a double glass dome. The outer dome is constructed of prism lights held in metal frames, which give the dome a graceful architectural form, while providing ample diffused light to the interior space. The magnificent leaded glass inner dome, designed in beautifully subdued colors, is constructed in the Tiffany style and adds warmth to the entire space. The public rooms and offices on the upper floors are arranged along balconies surrounding the rotunda, which are decorated with ornate metal railings. Massive marble piers on the lobby level carry the Corinthian pilasters with their ornamental gilded caps, which in turn support the arches, on which rests the main cornice, with the ring of the dome above. Behind the arches on the uppermost level are a series of mural paintings by Francis Davis Millet entitled The Development of Civilization in America. The thirteen panels, each approximately five by sixteen feet in size, are highlighted by vivid blues and greens with touches of scarlet, and depict the exploration and settlement of the Great Lakes region. It took Millet more than a year to execute the murals with the aid of three assistants.

Following a series of corporate reorganizations and mergers late in the 20th century, the banking hall finally closed in 1996. The building is still vacant and there are no plans at this time for its future use. Although well maintained and in excellent condition, neither the rotunda nor the murals are currently accessible to the public.

Next: “The Development of Civilization in America” (1909)

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