Friday, December 5, 2014

Glass Bank Demolition

From what I hear the landmark building in Cocoa Beach known locally as the "Glass Bank" is in the process of falling to the wrecking ball. While I was always taught that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, the same can not be said for those involved in the recent events surrounding this structure. Like many old buildings that have met the same fate over the years, its demise can be attributed to a fairly typical deadly cocktail of insensitive remodeling, soap opera worthy legal battles and strong public opinion. 

The Glass Bank in its heyday
Whatever your feelings may be on the current situation, the glass bank, originally called the First Federal Building, was the pride of the community when it first rose its flashy head above the sands of Cocoa Beach. Interestingly enough despite its local notoriety I was able to find little about it when I started researching it in our archives. No one was sure exactly what year it was built, and the City of Cocoa Beach has not kept the building permits for that period. Fortunately I was able to narrow down the year to 1961 by using our collection of city directories. I then turned to our microfilm collection of the Cocoa Tribune and went through each issue until I found the first mention of it on June 16th. Another article shown below appeared in September and states that the bank was scheduled to open on October 1st.

This article also confirms what I had suspected in that the bank's unique design was not thrown together by a contractor, but was rather the work of a trained architect. In this case it was Reginald Knight of Bradenton. A quick Google search reveals that this gentleman was no joke as they say. Reginald Caywood Knight was a graduate of both Harvard and Columbia and was on the faculty of Princeton and MIT. In 1957 he was awarded the first prize in the Enrico Fermi Memorial World Architectural Competition. He was a proponent of the the modern school of architecture and other notable landmarks he designed include the Bradenton municipal auditorium, shown below, and the John Shuler home on Longboat Key. 

Sadly I fear that unless something fabulous replaces this landmark it will probably end up in the "we wish we hadn't done that" category in years to come. Only time will tell! In the meantime you might want to go by and pay your respects before it is gone for good.