Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Lincoln Tower

 by Tom Castaldi

The Lincoln Tower was the first skyscraper in Indiana.  Construction of the Lincoln Tower began less than a month before the stock market crash of October 1929 that signaled the beginning of the Great Depression.  Completed in November 1930 at a cost of $1.3 million, the 312-foot tower was for many years Indiana’s tallest building. Its design, developed by the Cleveland firm of Walker and Weeks, was based on the Tribune Tower in Chicago.

The Lincoln National Bank that built the tower had been born in a boom time in Fort Wayne. Theodore Wentz and Samuel Foster founded the bank on May 20, 1905, as the German-American Bank.  Despite stiff competition from nine other banks in town, the German-American prospered and in 1914 organized the Lincoln Trust Company.  With America’s entry on the side of the Allies against Germany in World War I, anti-German feelings were so strong that the bank changed its name to the Lincoln National Bank in 1918.

The Lincoln National Bank and Trust Company continued in this building until its sale in 1993.  The Lincoln Tower is itself a monument to the German immigrants of Fort Wayne.  The project was conceived and directed by Charles Buesching, a first-generation German immigrant who was the president of the Lincoln National Bank and Trust Company from 1929 to 1962.  A.M. Strauss, German immigrant, was the local architect, and the construction firm of Buesching & Hagermann, a partnership of German immigrants, built the tower.
Photo by Nancy McCammon-Hansen

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