Clark State Park

Ness County Bank, Ness City, Kansas

The Ness County Bank building, a four-story, 18,700 sq. ft. stone building at the intersection of Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, in Ness City, Kansas, was called, upon its completion in 1890, "The finest and most imposing structure west of Topeka."

Built to house the Ness County Bank, founded by N.C. Merrill in 1885, it was designed by the architectural firm of Holland & Hopkins of Topeka, Kansas.The building contract was awarded Nov. 29, 1888, to William Ruff of Ness City, Kansas, for $34,000; other estimates placed the ultimate cost of the building at $75,000. The stone masonry was addressed to Daniel J. Rogers of Newton, Kansas, under sub-contract of $2,900; stone detailing on the arches was carved by P.A. Narey of Bazine, Kansas.

Instead of sand, crushed and ground limestone were used as an aggregate for the mortar to insure an exact match with adjoining stone. The window fenestration is generally grouped in threes with second floor windows enclosed in enormous semi-circular arches which rise from the first floor line and provide a striking accent to the facade. The pyramid roof structure is flanked by four cut-stone spires. Tower stonework shows the fine craftsmanship of the 1880s.

In October, 1889, the cornice roof was installed by Eaton and Cramer. There are 30 rooms in the bank building.

The building has an elevator shaft, unique for its time. Four large walk-in vaults with original burglar alarms remained in working order throughout the years.  An original oil painting, finished in 22-karat gold, adorns the vault door in the Great Room and further enhances the beauty of the interior.Throughout the building the ceilings are 13 feet high. Brass door knobs and fixtures, of a sunflower design, give some indication of the expensive hardware used.

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