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Mercantile Bank Dallas

Mercantile Bank Dallas

The Mercantile National Bank Building (known colloquially as The Merc) is a 31-story, 159.4 m (523 ft) skyscraper at 1700 Main Street in the Main Street district of downtown Dallas, Texas. It is the former home of the Mercantile National Bank, which later became MCorp Bank. The design of the skyscraper features Moderne stylingfrom the Art Deco era and was designed by Walter W. Ahlschlager. The building has a series of setbacks that is crowned by an ornamental four-sided clock along with a decorative weather spire. The Merc was the main element of a four-building complex that eventually spanned a full city block.

The site along Ervay Street between Main and Commerce previously housed the landmark Post Office building constructed in 1889 which featured a prominent clock tower and gingerbread architecture. After abandonment, it was the subject of rumors, plans and schemes, but by 1936, it had been declared a liability by local business leaders and was razed.

The Mercantile National Bank Building was completed in 1942 and was the only major skyscraper constructed during World War II. The U.S. government had called for a halt of private construction to fuel supply materials for the war effort. However, most of the tower’s steel had been prefabricated and was given a special waiver from the government. The bank lobby Art Deco wood murals were the largest in the world at the time. In addition to the bank and other offices, the federal government took 10 floors to hold offices for various war agencies. Mercantile Bank owner and founder Robert L. Thornton constructed his own penthouse level in the upper floors.

In 1947, an illuminated tower was constructed, which KERA used for radio broadcasts. In 1958, this tower was replaced by the current illumination tower and clock. In the 1960s, the original stone façade at the base of the building was covered by a modernist curtain wall facade.

At its completion, the Merc was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River and it was the tallest building in Dallas until 1954, when Republic Bank Tower I surpassed it. The building has 31 stories, and when the 115-foot (35 m) ornamental clock tower is included, is 545 feet (166 m) feet tall; making it the 19th-tallest building in Dallas. It also contains 359,348 square feet (33,385 m2) of floor space.