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Tower Building

The County Tower Building is an Albert Kahn designed 17 story bank building, constructed in 1929 for the Union and Peoples National Bank. With the onset of the Great Depression, the Union and Peoples National Bank never opened for business. In 1933, the National Bank of Jackson was organized as the successor to the Union and Peoples and opened for business, but never took ownership of the building. The bank vacated offices in 1958 and Consumers Power Company among others, leased office space. In 1975, the owner of the building, the Ray Kolowich family, sold the building for a nominal sum to the County of Jackson who continues ownership.

The second floor banking lobby originally had a 33 foot above finished floor barrel vaulted ceiling with ornate plaster decorations, three chandeliers with three tiers of lighting on each fixture, with two rows of school house lighting over each side of the teller stations. The teller line consisted of marble and walnut walls with brass service windows. The floor was decorative marble with many different colors of marble inlayed into the floor. The walls had solid walnut wainscoting topped with travertine marble leading up to the ceiling. Even with these impressive features, the 15, 22 foot high stained glass windows made of Italian stained glass were breath taking. The first floor lobby had a coffered ornamental plaster ceiling with the main entrance walls lined with black marble and the lobby walls clad in travertine. The bank’s board of director’s room was paneled in solid walnut with an ornamental plaster ceiling and a small chandelier.

The years had not been kind to what was once referred to as the “Golden Towers.” Moving forward through the years, the barrel vaulted ceiling was covered up with a dropped ceiling system, and the chandelier and school house lighting were discarded. The teller lines and marble balustrade surrounding the staircase were demolished. The marble floor was covered over in vinyl tile and then carpet placed on top of the vinyl. The huge room was sectioned off into offices using vinyl faced wall board, with the northern half being turned into the County Commission Chamber. Many of the stained glass windows had broken panes and deteriorated cement between the panes allowing wind to pass through the windows. The first floor lobby ceiling was painted over with white paint and the unique lighting fixtures removed, being replaced by fluorescent fixtures. A dropped ceiling was installed in the board room and the chandelier was discarded. The floors above the bank had hallways lined with rose colored marble with terrazzo floors. Many of these floors were “modernized” and opened up by removing the halls and walls.

In the past, discussions were held concerning opening the second floor back up to allow 3 departments located on various floors of the building to be relocated to the second floor. This was to allow for “one stop shopping” as opposed to going between 3 separate floors for real estate transactions involving the Register of Deeds, Equalization and the Treasurer’s office.

Beginning in 2007, plans were developed to restore the second floor and relocate the 3 departments. In conjunction with the Administrators office, the Facilities Department was tasked with the entire project. This necessitated first performing build outs on floors, 5 and 7 to relocate Human Resources and Finance into new offices, along with building a new Commission Chambers. To learn how to perform ornamental plaster repair, the building technicians started with restoring the fifth floor ceiling of the former bank director’s board room. After this success, attention was turned to the second floor.

With over 600 holes in the ceiling ranging from dropped ceiling hanger holes to large sections missing, the County had to bring in a restoration company. The company repaired all the holes and replaced the missing sections. Staff researched the correct painting method used on plaster ceilings and painted the repairs to match existing in the area of the repair. Due to repairs performed throughout the years, the ceiling paint did not all match. The decision was made to leave the ceiling as found and not attempt to make it look “new.” Using original photographs, the three chandeliers were recreated and reproduction school house lighting was purchased. The missing balustrades around the staircase were recreated as well from a marble quarry overseas. The layers of carpet and floor tiles were removed from the marble floor. The floor had sustained minor damage from the walls that were constructed and minor trenching for electrical upgrades. While the holes in the marble floor were filled, the trenching was left in place to help show the story of the floor. After being exposed for the first time in over 40 years, the floor was cleaned, polished and sealed.

Modular furniture was used to recreate the original teller line, allowing flexibility for future use without the constraints of a fixed system. To allow for a more personal and relaxing visit, customers are seated at each open service window. A cueing system is also used to allow for a faster, more efficient use of resources. The restoration of this floor has been very effective for customer service while preserving and acknowledging our past.

Subfacilities

  1. Commission Chambers

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