This is a classic Depression Era building with murals depicting hardworking Americans placed in an industrial scene along-side professional craftsmen. Notice the sign below the Murals stating Trust and Safe Deposit Departments attempting to convince customers it is ‘now’ safe to trust the banks and deposit your money. Although there may have been murals installed immediately after Manufacturers took over the existing structure in 1933, the current murals were installed as part of a 1946 $200,000 renovation. Home of The Triplets, which is located on the opposite wall of the main mural and is similar to HE PROFITS MOST WHO SERVES BEST, 1931, Chicago Rotary Club and it’s companion mural study, Service Above Self.
The Bank Building & Equipment Corporation handled many large bank renovations during the 1930’s and 1940’s and apparently commissioned Grell to create numerous murals if they were included in the design. The Manchester Bank of St. Louis photo shows another mural of the Grell type and design during the depression era. The Boatsmen National Bank, St. Louis has a similar mural. Murals during this period were so popular in the banks that even the corporate headquarters of Bank Building had a large (possible Grell) mural in its reception room on display for prospective clients to enjoy and consider. Maybe Grell had something to do with their popularity as he did with the Albert Pick Hotel chain and the popularity of murals incorporated into many of the nineteen twenties theatre designs. Grell’s client likely was Design, Inc., who shared office space with Bank Building in St. Louis, and represents his relationship building he employed with designers and architect firms that were nourished over decades to earn commission-after-commission.
The large Growth of America (exhibited under the title Century of Progress at Grant Wood & Louis Grell two man show Bluffs Arts Council, Pottawattamie County [Iowa] Courthouse, 2012-2017) mural and sketch held in the Grell Family collection are from this period and were commissioned for Farm and Home Savings, Webster’s Grove, MO.
-Trust & Safe Deposit Departments (15′ x 45′) & The Triplets (20′ x 20′), 1946 oil on canvas applied to plaster