Was Humboldt Park’s Pioneer Trust & Savings Bank Built to Last?
“It was magnificent…To me it’s like stepping into a cathedral that you would see in some other part of the world, but in your own neighborhood.”-Bill Smiljanić-Pérez. Founder, North & Pulaski Historical Society
“If there’s a disaster, let’s say a fire at a building, there’s an immediate board-up service that comes right after the fire trucks leave and the site is secured. However if there’s no disaster, there’s nothing that happens but …an open window or a door that’s been pried open, it’s impossible to get immediate action.”-Ward Miller. Executive Director, Preservation Chicago
This is the story of Humboldt Park’s Pioneer Trust & Savings Bank building. Constructed as a monumental symbol of neighborhood stability, surviving the Depression, adapting to changing demographics, winning landmark recognition, ransacked for brass fixtures, then ultimately becoming a mecca for urban spelunkers rafting into the flooded basement vault– somehow the building still stands today.
Credits & Bibliography
Producer: Rob Reid
Audio & Video Editing: Joshua Riechers
- Ward Miller. Executive Director, Preservation Chicago.
- Josie Pacheco. Vice President-Branch Manager, First Midwest Bank.
- Pete Schmugge. Executive Director, Northwest Connection Chamber of Commerce.
- Bill Smiljanić-Pérez. Founder, North & Pulaski Historical Society.
- Barto, Stephanie. Flickr. 24 March, 2013. https://flic.kr/p/e63jKQ.
- bKL Architecture.
- Chicago Daily Tribune. 1925.
- Chicago Transit Authority Archives. 1934.
- Historic Preservation Division, Department of Housing and Economic Development
- Illkoncept. tumblr. 2020. https://64.media.tumblr.com/10781e6a0b577a0bc85b9a308afc21d2/abd94bc52ad0f425-58/s2048x3072/16ebfa7c707bb39cb95e10cf2060587045306e8e.jpg.
- Mendoza, Gus. Facebook. 9 November, 2012. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=gustherealtor&set=a.4320611812428.
- North and Pulaski Historical Society. 27 July, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/NorthAndPulaskiHistoricalSociety/photos/pcb.10159438848389510/10159438833599510.
- Preservation Chicago.
- Rezin, Ashlee. Chicago Sun-Times.
- Zoline, Jeff. Flickr. 13 January, 2019. https://flic.kr/p/2iS6FNZ.
- “Exploring an Abandoned Chicago Bank (Flooded Basement Example).” YouTube, uploaded by Free4All. 14 November 2020, https://youtu.be/tB2LHUaBbd0.
- “The Flooded Titanic Bank Vault- DEEP DIVE”. YouTube, uploaded by Jason. 27 March 2020, https://youtu.be/MDw659Cqa5s.
- “Exploring a Massive Abandoned Chicago Bank with a HUGE Vault.” YouTube, uploaded by Decaying Midwest, 10 December 2021, https://youtu.be/iC1Aok291CY.
- “Rafting in Massive Flooded Abandoned 1920’s Bank Vault.” YouTube, uploaded by RnK All Day, 25 August 2018, https://youtu.be/v_CLuKcUygE.
- “The Heist.” Rustic Overtones. Rooms by the Hour, Ripcord Records, 1998.
- “I Know.” Josh Leahy. Open, Barley Scarf Records, 2022.
- “In My Room.” Josh Leahy. Open, Barley Scarf Records, 2022.
- Original soundtrack material by Josh Leahy.
- “Owners of Landmarked Buildings Could Pay Big for Neglecting Properties.” Block Club Chicago. 3 April 2018.
- “Some Landlords Keep Their Storefronts Empty For Years– And Get Tax Breaks For It. Business Leaders Want To Change That.” Block Club Chicago. 4 October 2021.
- “City Council Backs Plan to Turn West Side Bank Building Into Latino Heritage Center, Affordable Housing,” Block Club Chicago. 21 July 2021.
- “City digs up interest in sites long neglected.” Chicago Sun-Times. 3 May 2021.
- “Greater Chicago and the Outlying Banks.” Chicago Tribune. 28 July 1921.
- Ordinance O2017-4871: Amendment of the Municipal Code Section 2-120-910 concerning penalties and remedies for violators of structural safety requirements for landmark buildings. Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards. Office of the City Clerk, City of Chicago. 17 June 2017. https://chicago.councilmatic.org/legislation/o2017-4871/.
- Ordinance O2012-3295: Historical landmark designation for Pioneer Trust and Savings Bank Building. Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards. Office of the City Clerk, City of Chicago. 9 May 2012. https://chicago.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=1931911&GUID=C3FB5089-AE14-4A67-9339-646092F77293.
- “(Former) Pioneer Trust & Savings Bank Building: Final Landmark Recommendation adopted by the Commission on Chicago Landmarks.” Department of Housing and Economic Development, City of Chicago. 5 April 2012. https://www.chicago.gov/content/dam/city/depts/zlup/Historic_Preservation/Publications/Pioneer_Trust_Savings_Bank_Bldg.pdf.
- “Request for Proposals: Pioneer Bank RFP.” Department of Planning and Development, City of Chicago. 23 April 2021. https://www.chicago.gov/content/dam/city/sites/invest_sw/rfp/Humboldt_Park_RFP_1.pdf.
- “Assessor’s Vacancy Policy.” Cook County Assessor’s Office. Retrieved 30 June 2022. https://www.cookcountyassessor.com/form-document/assessors-vacancy-policy.