In 1930, the Hillcrest State Bank was formed. Doing well, as banks do, by 1938 they were able to open a George Dahl-designed location on Hillcrest Avenue between Daniel and Haynie avenues. In 1981, Hillcrest State Bank changed its name to Texas Commerce Bank. In 1998, the name was changed again to Chase Bank of Texas and was folded into Chase Manhattan Bank in 2000. In 2004, Ohio’s Bank One was acquired by Chase foreshadowing the bank’s headquarters move to Ohio in 2004 where it remains today.
As you can see, for all the name changes, this building never actually changed hands until the bank had abandoned it. First to try redevelopment was Dallasite Albert Huddleston who envisioned a mixed-use project that never gained traction with University Park officials or neighbors. After a decade he gave up and in 2015 local developer Jim Strode decided to try his luck, which eventually succeeded.
Along with ownership and name changes, there have been structural changes. As the picture above hints, over the years there was some pretty major tinkering to this building.
Looking at the façade demolition, it’s easy to the building was reskinned at some point from what appears to have been an original brick façade. Also, in the photo above, the rear of the building looks like a later addition that both covered and expanded the drive-through capacity and increased office space. The car and the addition were likely contemporaries.
Believe it or not, this one little bank building contained one of, if not the first, drive-through bank teller for America’s burgeoning car class. Dahl historians claim Hillcrest State was the first, but others say is was the 1928 City Center Bank of Kansas City or 1930 Grand National Bank of St. Louis that claim the crown.
Comparing the side views, it’s obvious that the building was greatly upsized yet again with three additional stories on top of the building’s rear. What was a light-filled one-story front façade became five-story windowless embattlements as utilitarian space crushed exterior beauty.
In comparing the 1950s façade, it’s easy to see the bricked-up windows. Looking closer, you see that the original front doorway was lowered during a renovation (1950s picture above). That renovation appears to have also added the tile to the skin of the building, replacing the original brick exterior.
The brick above the tile was a later addition that rose the room to two full stories in the main section of the building. That renovation likely added the bulk we see today with additional stories both in the rear and the two side boxes.
As the above I.D. card demonstrates, banking has changed quite a bit over the years and this building is no exception. From windowed brick, to tile, to boxed-in concrete panels, the layers of history will continue to be revealed as demolition continues. It’s fascinating to see layers of gunk removed and wonder just what the heck were people thinking.
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