A group of Illinois preservationists is trying to save a pre-Depression bank building.
The Landmarks Preservation Council is supporting an effort to turn the vacant Berwyn National Bank into a museum and visitors center instead of letting it be razed to make way for a supermarket or parking lot.
"The bank building has historical value to the community and can be reused," said Lori Thielen, vice president of the Berwyn Historical Society. "Once it's gone, it's gone forever."
The bank, which was built in 1926 and was opened as American State Bank, is considered historically significant because of its domed glass ceiling and marble and bronze fixtures. It also has its period's state-of-the-art anti-burglary devices, such as an 18-inch-thick, torch-proof steel door and a tear gas bomb chamber, according to a local coordinator for the National Register of Historic Places.
But some members of the Berwyn City Council would rather see the bank building, which Berwyn National vacated and sold in 1972, passed on to a developer as part of the city's economic redevelopment. One alderman was quoted in a local newspaper as saying the city should "look where the dollars will come from."
An Illinois start-up wants its customers to form personal relationships with its tellers through video screens.
The screens will be placed at drive-up lanes of Southwest Bank in Belleville. The bank is installing video equipment at its windows so customers can have two-way conversations with the teller who waits on them.
While the teller processes the transaction, the monitor will show bank advertisements and financial headlines.
"We want our customers to know our tellers," said Karen C. Hendrickson, who Southwest has designated to be its president and chief executive officer.
The bank, which hopes to open in August, will spend about $20,000 on the lanes. That price includes regular drive-up features, such as security cameras, as well as the additional monitors and software.
Information for the screens will be supplied by a program called VideoSite developed by Audio Communications Network Inc. An Audio Communications spokesman said Southwest will be the first bank to use the program at a drive-up window.
- Louis Whiteman