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“Our Founder”


In San Francisco there is a good deal of public art, sculpture, etc. that enlivens the city’s streets and plazas. One of the buildings that I liked very much as an undergraduate is the Bank of America at 555 California Street, and in its Giannini Plaza there is a rather nice sculture titled “Transcendence” by artist Masayuki Nagare, though most of the natives call it “The Banker’s Heart” (an image reproduced here courtesy of a Creative Commons license at wikipedia). What it may be transcending I cannot say. But BofA’s reputation seems to have earned its more popular name.


The building behind, by the way, is by SOM and was admirable in its day for the way it “met the sky” as well as its juncture with the ground plane, feats not always handled well in the Age of Highrise Masturbation. No wonder architects are said to suffer from an “edifice complex”.

The oldest bank in Agincourt is the Farmers, Mechanics and Merchants or FM&M, a fusion during the Great Depression of the older Farmers & Mechanics State Bank and the Merchants National. Of their relative economic health in the 30s, I can’t say very much, but I am interested in fleshing out their individual and collective histories. One thing I hope is true: that their leadership during the Depression was more exemplary–a model for the shared experience of small town America–than the mercenary bankers of more recent experience, when no one ought to be “too big to fail”.

So, at the FM&M today, still situated at the prestigious corner of Broad and Agincourt (simultaneously #1 Agincourt Avenue NW and #2 North Broad Street), you’ll find the portrait of its president at the merging of the two more fragile institutions and the person who guided it through the troubled waters of those years. He is un-named as yet but I intend to make his an admirable career. What think you of his portrait?


1 Comment

  1. R.H.L.M. Ramsay says:

    Frank Lloyd Wright’s early client Mrs Avery Coonley said that she saw in Wright’s work “the countenance of principle”. Could this portrait be the face of integrity for banking seventy-plus years ago

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