June 23, 2015

‘A temple to banking’ in Michigan

The Wells Fargo banking store in Marquette dates to the 1920s and features more than classic architecture: Its “coin room” displays historic artifacts.

Opened in 1927, the grand Wells Fargo banking store in Marquette, Michigan, is a point of pride to the community:

  • Intended as a “temple to banking” by benefactor/bank president Louis G. Kaufman — who donated the land and set the tone for the opulent space — the building today still shines after decades of care.
  • A coin room open to the public for decades features unusual and historic currency from around the world that gives visitors a unique take on financial services.
First National Bank and Trust Company building under construction in Marquette, Michigan.
Wells Fargo bank in downtown Marquette, Michigan
Photo of L.G. Kaufman
L.G. Kaufman plaque at Wells Fargo bank in Marquette, Michigan.
First National Bank Marquette, Michigan, interior in 1926
Lobby of Wells Fargo bank in downtown Marquette, Michigan
Brass grate of safe deposit box vault of Wells Fargo bank in Marquette, Michigan
Brass work at teller line of Wells Fargo bank in Marquette, Michigan
Kaufman Coin Collection Room
Gold Mexican peso in Kaufman Coin Collection
1776 Continental note from state of New York
Educational Series note on display at Wells Fargo in Marquette, Michigan
The bank building as it appeared during construction in 1925 ― its prime location shown by the trolley car lines in the street . . .
. . . and still serving customers today at the corner of Washington and Front streets.
Born in Marquette, Michigan, L.G. Kaufman donated the land where he built a “temple to banking” for his hometown.
A plaque inside the bank commemorates Kaufman’s gift. In 1992, Wells Fargo relocated the plaque and placed a time capsule in the wall behind it.
1926 photo shows the brass cages surrounding each teller window and the open mezzanine in the lobby. The marble benches were removed in the 1960s.
The bank’s lobby as it appears today. An office in the northwest corner was removed to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The original brass grate to the safe deposit box vault.
The brass work at the teller line.
A vault in the Kaufman Coin Collection Room features national bank notes, coins, and uncut currency he signed.
Among the treasures that delight schoolchildren and other visitors is a Mexican peso, the last remaining gold coin in the collection.
Another is a “Continental” note issued by the state of New York in 1776. Issued by the colonies before, during and after the Revolutionary War, few were redeemed, leading to the expression “Not Worth a Continental.”
The currency collection also includes a rare “Educational Series” note issued by the U.S. that features the names of famous Americans in the wreaths around the border.