Friday, August 23, 2013

A centennial piece: Purcell and Elmslie’s Madison State Bank “Skylight”

William Gray Purcell, American, 1880–1965 and George Grant Elmslie, American (born Scotland), 1869–1952
Skylight, 1913
From the Madison State Bank, Madison, Minnesota (demolished 1968)
Purcell, Feick and Elmslie, architects
Glass, zinc caming, (with three new replacement panels and new oak frame)
Mosaic Art Shops (E.L. Sharretts), Manufacturer, Minneapolis, 1912–1930
From the collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art
Photograph by versluis

This large art glass piece which is on permanent display at the MIA in Minneapolis has the characteristics of a frame within a frame design by collaborators Purcell and Elmslie. The original panels of the art glass, comprising the top and bottom rows will be one hundred years old this year; the center horizontal section of three panels are very fine reproductions.

The museum didactics for this piece state the following:

This is a recreation of the central skylight located over the teller cages of the Madison State Bank. The skylight originally comprised nine panels, however, the square central panel and two of the long border panels seen here are reproductions. For the bank, Purcell, Feick and Elmslie produced a long, narrow plan for the middle of a block. The exterior featured a window wall with aqua, orange, and yellow terracotta ornament enlivening the brick façade. This was similar to Purcell and Elmslie’s other bank designs and also to Louis Sullivan’s National Farmers’ Bank in Owatonna (1908).

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