Historic Ridgewood Savings Bank looks ahead
by Michael Perlman
Aug 07, 2014 | 6297 views | 1 1 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In an age when some architectural treasures are insensitively altered or lost to the wrecking ball, one of the few officially designated landmarks in Forest Hills is ready for its photo-op.

The smooth Alabama Rockwood stone and polished Deer Island granite façade of the Ridgewood Savings Bank at 107-55 Queens Boulevard was power-washed, eliminating grime in exchange for a renewed appreciation, and now, more restoration plans may take path. In addition, Nancy Adzemovic, an 18-year company employee became the new branch banking officer and branch manager, and is welcoming leads on community partnerships.

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission granted the bank Individual landmark status on May 30, 2000.

Erected from 1939 to 1940, the bank chose to expand from its native home in Ridgewood which originated in 1921, and take advantage of the growing community of Forest Hills. Historic events such as the establishment of the IND subway line in 1936 and the 1939 – 1940 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, contributed to an increase in demographics, development and economic opportunities.

Halsey, McCormack & Helmer, a noteworthy New York-based firm that prioritized on bank architecture, presented Forest Hills with a three-story Modern Classical style bank, situated on a landscaped triangular plot.

Doors opened on April 6, 1940.

That same year, the Queens Chamber of Commerce commemorated the bank with a first prize award for its “excellence of design and civic value” at its annual building awards competition.

“I am extremely honored to serve as manager of a branch, where the community appreciates our landmarked bank,” Adzemovic said. “I love the fact that it remains a branch where you can appreciate the intricacies of each detail. It holds true to the vision of our founding fathers in 1940. Today, many banks are in storefronts, but this bank stands tall and I can look up and say ‘Wow, this is amazing!’”

Distinctive features of the convex and concave façade include flat eagles aligned with pilasters, large bronze-tinted windows, streamlined and wave-like incised designs, modernistic clocks and grilles.

Mostly intact interior features include a streamlined ceiling designed by the famed muralist Angelo Magnanti, Art Deco fixtures, travertine floors, buff pink Mansota stone walls on a wainscot of polished Rosato D’Or marble -- which is carried onto the counters -- and wrought iron and bronze teller screens, check desks and railings.

It required four days to power-wash the façade.

“We applied hot water pressure of no more than 700 psi,” said Frank Artusa, President of Artusa & Artusa Construction Company, Inc.

In response, Adzemovic has taken note of passersby admiring what she refers to as a beautifully structured building.

“Especially at night, the building stands brighter,” she said.

After the 2010 macroburst, some of the authentic bronze-tinted window panes blew in, causing some to be replaced with clear glass.

After being informed about technical leads and grants, which played a role in restoring other historic buildings, Adzemovic said, “We are seeking out preservation options.”

Other projects may include restoring the Art Deco light fixtures and an ornamental ceiling, which sustained some water damage.

“The Ridgewood Savings Bank has always been a bank that prides itself on its community,” Adzemovic said. “I want to go out into the community and search for more partnerships. We give donations to local non-profits, volunteer, and educate our children.”

The Ridgewood Savings Bank is a member of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce, sponsors the Night Out Against Crime in MacDonald Park, organizes blood drives, volunteers in soup kitchens, compiles food collections and coordinates a carnival-themed family fun festival and kids day, as well as employee-based yard sales which help renovate a Queens classroom.

Adzemovic shared a photo of a mural also designed by Angelo Magnanti, which adorns the main branch.

It reads, “Saving is the secret of wealth.”

“We have educational programs, where we teach students from kindergarten through college about the importance of saving,” she explained. “We make saving convenient by going to a school and picking up their deposits. They establish their account with a little as ten dollars to start, and learn how interest compounds. The younger they are, the savvier they will become.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Liz Zollner
August 07, 2014
This was our family bank from the 50s through the 80s. I learned to save here with my own account and Christmas Club too. Today we have no debt. Perhaps this is attributable to my early training here. Also, their little -known bathroom down the spiral staircase was a Godsend I don't know how many times. Thanks, Ridgewood!