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The old German-American State Bank building is a two-story commercial block clad in white glazed brick and terra cotta ornaments. It was built in 1910 and designed by Leeper & Smith. The longer side of the building faces south toward SW 5th Avenue and features two-story arched bays and a stepped parapet. A recessed modern, two-story addition on the building's west end contains a stairway and elevator. The building contained the bank on the first floor until the 1950s; in 1917, the bank changed its name to Guaranty State Bank. The old German-American State Bank building was listed in the Kansas Register in 1979 and in the National Register the following year.

Old German-American State Bank south and east facades in 2011 photo (Finch, KSHS)

Old German-American State Bank south and east facades in 2011 photo (Finch, KSHS)

Longer elevation, old German-American State Bank, facing SW 5th Ave. in 2011 (Finch, KSHS)

Longer elevation, old German-American State Bank, facing SW 5th Ave. in 2011 (Finch, KSHS)

The lot where the Old German-American State Bank building stands was bought in 1908 by Millard F. Rigby, the owner of a local candy business. In the spring of 1910, the existing building on the lot was demolished and construction began on the new structure. The building cost about $15,000 to build. By mid-1912, the real estate/ insurance office of George M. Noble & Company occupied the second story; a drugstore - Brunt Drug Co. - was operating from part of the first floor of the building. An architect, Charles M. Cuthbert, worked from an office in the building by 1915.

The German-American State Bank was established by F.P. Metzger elsewhere downtown (Third and Kansas avenues) in 1908 and gained $89,000 in deposits in its first 89 days. The bank catered to farmers and had four farmers on its board of directors. The bank moved to the building on the corner of Kansas and SW 5th Avenue in September 1915. A newspaper advertisement for the new location touted a "cozy Rest Room especially for the Ladies. The bank's slogan was "Just Plain, Practical, Conservative Banking is Our Policy." Theodore C. Mueller was the bank president in 1915; vice presidents were J.S. Corley and T.R. Paxton. The bank changed its name in December 1917 (during World War I, when the German association was a liability) to the Guarantee State Bank. The bank's president in 1918 was E.E. Mullaney; T.R. Paxton and Roy L. Bone were vice presidents. The bank occupied this building until the 1950s.

White exteriors for commercial buildings became popular after the "White City" displays of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The glazed brick and terracotta materials used in the bank building reflect this trend. The decorations on the bank buildnig are a blend of Romanesque and classical revivals. While the exterior of the old German-American State Bank building retains a moderate degree of architectural integrity, the interior has been completely renovated. The new second-story windows match the original in type and material except for the addition of tinted glass. The first-floor windows do not replicate the historical windows.

A restaurant named Luis' Place is one of the building's current tenants; they operate mainly as a private club with special events and reservation dining only. They are open to the public for Friday lunches and First Wednesdays wine tastings. A gluten-free bakery, Shana Cake, holds the corner space on the main floor. A real estate leasing and management firm, Kansas Commercial, occupies the second-floor offices.

Anonymous. "Now is the Time. The German-American State Bank." Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) June 20th 1908. Last ed, 21-21.

Brunt Drug Store. "Stops Scalp Itch." Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) June 7th 1912. Last ed, 14-14.

Cuthbert, Charles D. "Member of Scarab Architect Society." Advertisement. Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) July 10th 1915. Home ed, 13-13.

German-American State Bank. "Announcement." Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) October 1st 1915. Home ed, 11-11.

Greater Topeka Partnership. Luis' Place, Visit Topeka. June 1st 2020. Accessed August 12th 2020.

Guaranty State Bank. "Real evidence of Thrift is Saving." Advertisement. Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) February 2nd 1918. Home ed, 3-3.

Kansas Commercial. Our Commitment, About Us. Accessed August 13th 2020.

Loughlin, Amanda. 177-5400-00109 Guaranty State Bank Building, Kansas Historic Resources Inventory. Accessed August 13th 2020.

Noble, George M., & Co. "Real Estate for Sale." Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS) May 18th 1912. Last ed, 19-19.

Wortman, Julie. NRHP Nomination of Old German-American State Bank. National Register. Washington, DC. National Park Service, 1980.

Image Sources(Click to expand)