Editor’s note: An updated version of this post can be viewed here.
The BOTD is a no-frills look at interesting structures of all types and from all neighborhoods. There will be old, new, important, forgotten, public, private, good and bad. Whatever strikes our fancy. We hope you enjoy.
Address: 539 Eastern Parkway, corner of Nostrand Avenue
Name: Kings County Savings Bank, now Banco Popular
Neighborhood: Crown Heights North
Year Built: 1930
Architectural Style: Art Deco
Architects: Halsey, McCormack & Helmer
Landmarked: No (calendared 2009)
Brooklyn has some fine Art Deco buildings, and this is one of my favorites.
Designed by the same firm who gave us the interior (and redone exterior) of the Dime Savings Bank, in the Fulton Mall, the magnificent Williamsburg Savings Bank tower at Hanson Place, as well as the former Carver Savings Bank on Fulton Street, in Bed Stuy, this is, by comparison, an intimate setting for the practice of thrift.
Art Deco has a lot of variety in its incarnations, and this one embraced the stylized angled sculptural side of Deco, as opposed to the Williamsburg Savings Bank’s more two dimensional reliefs. The facade features those wonderful lions guarding the bank, a loyal dog, and figures representing the tribes of man: Asian, African, Native American, Viking.
The columns also show reliefs of scientists at work, scholars and inventors. It’s a wonderful pictograph of all of the things one should be saving money in order to preserve. The interior boasts soaring spaces, and lots of marble and brass fittings. The bank is one of Crown Heights’ great jewels.
[Photos by Suzanne Spellen]