How An Unlikely Friendship Builds A Hidden Architectural Gem

In 1908, the most famous of Louis Sullivan’s jewel box banks was built in Owatonna, MN. Book a tour to hear how the unlikely friendship, between bank president Carl Bennett and architect Louis Sullivan, helped build this national architecture gem.

In the early 1900’s, the United States was a climate for industrial, economic and architectural creations. At the same time in Steele County (Butter Capital of the World); Carl Bennett, the National Farmer’s Bank president, convinced the board of directors to reconstruct the then modest and simple bank. Bennett invited Louis Sullivan, a Chicago architect that was down on his luck, to Owatonna and an unlikely friendship formed between the 2 men. Together Bennett and Sullivan set out to fulfill their lifelong desire to create a “masterpiece”.

The National Farmers’ Bank turned into a premier example of Prairie School Architecture and was named one of the “11 Can’t-Miss Stops on a Tour of America’s Hidden Architecture Gems”. The National Farmers Bank became the first, and most famous of Louis Sullivan’s “jewel box” banks. The building features gold leaf arches, stained glass windows, ornate terra cotta, and 2-ton electroliers. Reserve a tour to hear the story about the building and glance at its beautiful architecture.

Visit more historical sites by booking a Step Back In Time tour to Owatonna. Your tour will feature the National Farmers Bank, the only known Orphanage Museum, and the Village of Yesteryear. Contact Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism to book these tours for your group.

Watch this video which features the beauty of this hidden gem.