Said to be the finest and most imposing structure west of Topeka when it was finished in 1890, the four-story limestone bank was nicknamed the "Skyscraper of the Plains."
Unique features include the four vaults, one of which has oil painting finished in 22 karat gold; brass fixtures with sunflower motif; and an elevator shaft which was rare at the time it was built.
Many Civil War veterans who had migrated from the East were the workers and overseers of the arduous tasks associated with constructing this limestone building; such as hand carving and chiseling the stone, as well as the inside woodwork. One single stone brought in for the arches weighed 6,820 pounds. Ox carts brought the rock to town and then block-and-tackle methods were used to set the stones in place. Limestone was ground to make sure the mortar would match the other stones, and the mortared joints are of the extruded type-such a rarity that recently an architect walked the sidewalks for 20 minutes focusing on the mortar.
The building has thirty rooms, 13-foot tin-pressed ceilings, original wainscoting, pocket doors, flooring, fireplaces, and front doors. There are 110 high, arch carved windows.
Window fenestration is generally grouped in threes, with second floor windows enclosed in enormous, semi-circular arches rising from the first floor line and providing a striking accent to facades. The pyramid roof structure is flanked by four cut stone spires.
The building is fully restored and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The Ness County Chamber of Commerce and Prairie Mercantile call it home. It's used now as a meeting place and one floor houses an exhibit of Ness County history.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 785.798.2237; 785.227.2983; 785.798.2413
Open: Prairie Mercantile is open in the basement Monday-Friday 1-5 p.m.; the Ness County Chamber is open on the main floor Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday 8-11 a.m. Call 785.798.2237 for a tour.