“When we seek to discover the best in others,
we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”
~ William Arthur Ward
Last week I learned that the People’s Bank on South Broadway is going the way of UK dorms. The bank is currently taking bids for demolition crews. According to Tom Eblen’s article in the Herald-Leader, this building is the last of the Modernist era architecture in Lexington. That will be a significant loss to Lexington.
I’ve driven past People’s Bank a billion times, and like so many in the Bluegrass, I’ve always adored it’s shape and color. Its tiny stature sandwiched between behemoth structures is just as charming as can be. Since I didn’t bank with People’s, I never used its services, nor have I ever had the occasion to even walk in front of it. Given its eventual demise, I had to have a closer look.
This building is more fascinating in person than in pictures. Completed in 1961, it’s like an episode of Mad Men. The color of the brick is so deeply glazed and entrancing; the sharp edges of the roof line with those triangular turquoise accents cut through the sky like a serrated knife. I’d never noticed those accents until today. Everything about this little building is captivating, really.
And the inside, wow! I can smell decades old stale cigarette smoke through the cracks in the door. (I know that sounds weird, but I really can smell it – I’ve got a nose for smoke.) The curtains look mid-1970’s dust, and most of the carpet covering the original marble-esque floor has been pulled up. It’s easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of daily business, as if the building is still filled with people.
I know they say it can’t be salvaged because of the asbestos, but I think that’s a cop out. In truth, I think it would be an expense nobody, including the bank that owns it, wants to take on. So, we’re left to say goodbye to another piece of history. I am so thankful I went exploring this treasure while I still could. It was a beautiful gift.