The American National Bank
136 East Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo

Another Weary and Alford design, this building is Kalamazoo’s best example of Art Deco Architecture, and at the time it was built it was our tallest. It caused quite a stir in the community when it was constructed for the Kalamazoo Trust and Savings Bank in 1929-30. Unfortunately, the bank didn’t survive the Depression. The American National Bank promptly reopened this stately structure in 1933, and remained there well into the 1980s until Old Kent took over.

The irregularly stepped building has an exterior of Indiana limestone. A 1928 Kalamazoo Gazette description of the structure’s planned appearance shows one ideal of Art Deco design:

"So that the beauty of the building may not be lost in the darkness of the night, except as the moon may shine on it there will be provided on the corner balconies at the thirteenth floor and along the promenade at the fifteenth floor powerful floodlights giving crystal-clear as well as chromatic illumination of the upper part of the building. The shadow depths and high lights of this lighting system and the opportunity for changing colors to give difference in glow and warmth will serve to accentuate the architecture and make a towering fountain of light visible for many miles out in the country districts."

All around the doorways and windows for the first three floors are ornamented archways with geometric banking and nature motifs. Interesting metalwork also accents the strong vertical line of the windows all the way to the top floors. Inside this glorious building is an atrium almost better than City Hall’s, complete with a vaulted ceiling hand-painted in a pastel Egyptian theme by Otto Stauffenberg. The soda counter is still in service, as are the scales and the beautiful drinking fountain.