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Third National Bank Building
415 Olive Street at Broadway
Built: 1906-07
Architect: Eames & Young
Status: demolished 1977; now the site of Metropolitan Square.

The Third National Bank Building was a 1906 skyscraper that rose some 17 stories from the southwest corner of Broadway and Olive Streets. The no-nonsense design shows Chicago School influence in its simplicity, adorned at cornice and street with the same sort of Renaissance Revival ornament that went into contemporaries like the Wright Building (another Eames & Young design, probably on the drawing boards at nearly the same time), as well as a clear division into base, shaft and capital. The U-shaped building was adorned on the major street faces, with plain brick walls facing the alleys.

An early design went out as a promotional postcard, advertising the bank's new home before it was actually completed; the final design differed in a number of details - and the early painted rendering also showed completely different buildings on the surrounding blocks! According to the postcard, Third National was scheduled to move in on January 1st, 1908.

The Third National Bank consolidated with two others (St. Louis Union Bank and Mechanics-American National Bank) in 1919 to form the First National Bank in St. Louis; the consolidated bank made its headquarters in the Mercantile Library building, while the original Third National building was taken over by Liberty Central Trust Company of St. Louis, formed via a 1921 merger. In 1929, Liberty Central Trust would in turn merge with First National, leaving the old Third National Building and consolidating at First Nationals' quarters in the Mercantile Library building.

In 1930, the Mississippi Valley Trust Company moved in (vacating their offices a block east at the Laclede Building and the small, Classically-styled Mississippi Valley Trust Company Building), lending their name to the building. It would remain the Mississippi Valley Building for the remainder of its days. It lost its cornice in 1946, part of an unfortunate campaign by the city against aging cornices. The eponymous company remained until at least 1951, when it company merged with Mercantile-Commerce Bank and Trust to form Mercantile, the city's biggest bank and a powerhouse in the region for nearly five decades.

With the 1976 completion of Mercantile's ultra-modern skyscraper, the old Third National building was vacated and demolished in 1977. It remains the tallest building in St. Louis to have been torn down. Its site, along with the rest of its block, is today occupied by the 1989 One Metropolitan Square, the city's tallest building.

  • Cornice level image, post-1910, Missouri Historical Society
  • Locator Map

    The Third National Bank Building as built, in an early 1900s photograph by Thomas C. Young. From the Washington University Archives.

    Entryway detail

    Cornice detail

    Circa 1907 tinted postcard

    A circa 1907 pre-construction rendering, showing a non-finalized design. The bottom (cropped out) reads "Our new home after January 1, 1908."

    1922 interior view from The Bankers Magazine

    1922 interior view from The Bankers Magazine

    1922 interior view from The Bankers Magazine

    The backside of the building circa 1970; the Mississippi Valley Building's glory days are long behind it. The Old Courthouse is visible at bottom right, along with the blank slate that will become Keiner Plaza. Image taken from This Is Our St. Louis, Harry Hagen, Knight Publishing Co., St. Louis 1970.

    Nearly the same view today, with One Metropolitan Square at center.

    Two amazing buildings on Broadway, long lost, captured in the background of the original photograph. The smaller building is the American Exchange Bank, while the taller one at right is home to F.A. Steer & Co., a seller of men's clothing and furnishings.
    They show the same overwrought Victorian exuberance seen in post-Civil War structures like the Fagin Building and the McLean Tower. Such structures flouted convention and were heavily maligned in the architectural press back east, but reflect St. Louis's youthful vigor and rough frontier origins. The entrance to Met Square stands in nearly the same spot today.