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Banks

One of the most important architectural structures in villages and towns are the banking institutions, because they represent how wealthy investors and modest working class residents alike view their most precious assets. As a result financial buildings are generally the largest and highly decorated in their communities. The same applies to places of worship and government buildings.

The first bank in the Village was the Great Neck Trust Company, now Citibank, located at one of the busiest commercial intersections, on the corner of Middle Neck Road and Grace Avenue. Founded in 1919 by William R. Grace and other investors, it is one of the most elaborate classical buildings, sporting full height Corinthian pilasters, medallions and fluted pilasters along with a visible exterior safe. The decorative cornice entablature is a classical feature of Greek and Colonial Revival architecture. Inside is a historic vault.

Akin to the Great Neck Trust Company is the 1961 Chase Manhattan Bank, declared a village landmark in 2005. Designed by The Architects Collaborative under the direction of architect Benjamin Thompson, this was the first suburban Chase branch in Nassau County, built as a result of a 1961 Omnibus Banking Act of the New York State Legislature, which allowed New York City banks to open offices in Nassau and Westchester counties. Chase wanted a prototype for future branch buildings in keeping with its image as modern institution and sponsor of “the best in modern architecture.” The bank featured glass door entrances and walls, drive-in teller service and a community room. It received awards from the American Institute of Architects and other professional architects on Long Island. Distinctive features include a parasol-style “waffle” roof supported by a colonnade that evokes a modernist classicism. Transparent walls of gray glass alternate with freestanding solid walls of water-struck brick. Clerestory windows framed in bronze and tinted gray surround the main banking room.

The two banks are located on prominent thoroughfares, so that residents and travelers could easily find them and investors could showcase their assets. In addition both edifices are grand in both scale and design, unlike smaller storefront banks today.

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