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Architecture and History Inventory
202 W COOK ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:First Wisconsin Bank; City Bank of Portage
Other Name:First Star Bank
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:45293
Location (Address):202 W COOK ST
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1929
Survey Date:1992
Historic Use:bank/financial institution
Architectural Style:Art Deco
Structural System:Brick
Wall Material:Stone - Unspecified
Architect:St. Louis Bank Building and Equipment Company
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Portage Retail Historic District
National Register Listing Date:4/27/1995 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:10/24/1994 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:The presence of banks within the community provided a means for its citizens to make long-term investments in large enterprises. Their presence thus suggests an expanding or stong economic outlook. While mercantile stores might offer limited amounts of short-term credit, they lacked the resources to support major growth. Marshall and Ilsley of Milwaukee formed Portage's first bank, the Columbia County Bank, in 1853 and incorporated it in 1854. They located the bank in a frame building at the corner of W. Wisconsin and W. Cook, probably the site of the Corning Block and the Raulf Hotel (207 W. Cook, 31/22) and in 1855 moved into the Columbia County Bank Building at the site of the 1929-1930 City Bank Building (202 W. Cook, 57/8). The bank failed during the panic of 1873. Decatur Vandercook established the city's second bank, the Bank of Portage, in 1857 locating it in the 1855 Vandercook Block at 238 W. Wisconsin (24/32). It also closed during the panic of the 1873 (Butterfield 1880: 585; Register-Democrat 7/13/1923; River Times 1853; [8/27: 6/4]; City Bank of Portage 1949; Columbia Co.Treasurer 1863- [1863-1866]). Charles Haertel and F.W. Schulz organized the German Exchange Bank in 1874 as a private bank. Schulze replaced Haertel as president after Haertel's death. The bank occupied 129 W. Cook (56/23) which was replaced after 1945-1946. It provided several other services including a general insurance and ticket agency. The bank failed during the depression of 1893 (Stone 1882; WPA 1938: after 8; Butterfield 1880: 644, 663; Portage Daily Register 12/23/1889; 1966 [5/9: 10-11]; Jones 1914 [1]: 201-202).

The City Bank received its charter from the state in 1874. Llywelyn Breese, Robert B. Wentworth, E.L Jaeger, Rodney Loomis, W.D. Fox, and Andrew Weir organized the City Bank of Portage. Ll. Breese served as its first president until 1914. By that year, the bank offered checking accounts, a savings account, loans, money orders, and safety deposit vaults. The bank was re-organized in 1909 and in 1929. William Breese served as its new president after 1914, and Harlan B. Rogers became its vice president in 1929. In 1931, the City Bank applied for and received fiduciary powers from the state which allowed it to form a trust department. In 1969, the bank became known as the City Bank and Trust Company. It is currently known as the First Star Bank. After the Columbia County Bank failed in 1873, the City Bank moved into its quarters at 202 W. Cook. The bank replaced its building in 1929-1930- (57/8). The new, two story building was constructed of Bedford limestone veneer placed on a St. Cloud, ganite veneer base. The St. Louis Bank Building and Equipment Company designed and constructed the building. Its classical design included full length pilasters which rose to its cornice, copper spandrels between the vertically aligned windows, and an entrance gained through copper, double doors. Later detailing replaced the spandrels. Also undergoing alteration, the interior was originally finished with black walnut, Italian Botticino marble, and bronze fixtures (Wisconsin State Register 11/8/1929 [by Zona Gale]; Portage Daily Register 12/23/1889; Register-Democrat 4/30/1930; 5/1/1930; Jones 1914 [2]: 448; Ogle, Geo. A. & Co. 1901: 229; City Bank of Portage 1914; 1949; Columbia County Historical Society 1982).

The City Bank building also included offices and a hall on the upper floor. For example, by 1937, H.B. Rogers moved two offices above the City Bank Building at 202 W. Cook (57/8) and in 1948 through 1955 over 238 W. Wisconsin (24/32). His law firm continues to the present under mthe name of Miller, Rogers, and Owens located in offices recently constructed at 311 DeWitt (25/9) (Commonwealth Telephone Company 1937; 1948).
Bibliographic References:Sanborn-Perris Map Co. 1929: bank with hall on third 1918: bank and Knight of Columbus hall on second (different building) 1910, 1901, 1894, 1889, 1885: bank Columbia Co. Treasurer 1863- 1876-1935: City Bank of Portage 1870: J.P. McGregor 1863-67: Columbia Co. Bank The valuation indicates that the bank building was replaced in 1929-1930. The original building was erected in 1855 (see below). 1955: City Bank of Portage listed as 238 W. Wisconsin with General Engineering above (Johnson Printing Co.) 1929: City Bank listed as 202e W. Cook and 238 W. Wisconsin (Smith-Baumann) 1884-85: City Bank of Portage (R.L. Polk & Co.) 1873: Columbia Cod.s Bank (Platt) 1865: Columbia Co. Bank, bank block, Cook (Hawes) Note: The one story building to the west was occupied by Kroger's before it was part of the bank. The building burned prior to its function as a grocery and about the time Loreli moved from next door in 1947 (Eulberg 1993). 1955: 206 W. Cook-Kroger 1948: 206 W. Cook-Kroger 1937: 125 W. Cook-Kroger Grocery and Baking Co. (Commonwealth Telephone Co.) 1937: 206 W. Cook-Spurgeon Mercantile Co. 1929: 204-206: G.L. Bogardus, jeweler and Spurgeon Mercantile Co. The building burned in 1947 (Register Democrat 6/15/1954; Portage Daily Register 7/2/1952).
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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