by Paula Bosse
I stumbled across the postcard below and was instantly fascinated by that crazy structure. What was it? The back of the card helped me out: “New home of the Wyoming National Bank of Casper.” That super-modernistic building was in Wyoming?
Indeed it was. In fact it’s still there (it’s now a branch of Wells Fargo).
Denver architect Charles Deaton (1921-1996) was something of a visionary designer, with many of his projects imagined first in sculptural terms. His designs were odd and bold and often futuristic-looking. He was a self-taught architect and structural engineer and, in addition to his work as a designer of buildings, interior spaces, lighting, and furniture, he was also a prolific inventor who held several U.S. patents.
When the Casper bank opened in May, 1964, Wyoming became the 36th state which had within its borders a Deaton-designed bank.
Of the design for the newly completed Wyoming National Bank of Casper, Deaton said:
“It’s got everything it needs, no more or no less. It’s a complete composition. It has not been modified or changed in the construction or by the bank. It could not have been done if I did not have in the bank a client that wanted a creative effort. […] I have no apologies … no excuses. I like it.” (Charles Deaton, quoted in the Casper Star-Tribune, May 3, 1964)
Below, the model of Deaton’s “ultra-modern” design (all images are larger when clicked).
Five months later, an “invitation to bid” — which included details of the building — was extended to general contractors.
A nifty drawing of the bank appeared in several ads printed in a special grand-opening section of the Casper Star-Tribune on May 3, 1964.
As did a photo of Deaton visiting the site (Deaton is seen in the center of the photo below).
And … wow. Mid-century modernism in Casper, Wyoming!
This interesting short film contains an overview of Deaton’s work and is well worth a look:
Sources & Notes
Color postcard found on eBay.
The black-and-white photo at the bottom is one of several images of the bank (and the Wells Fargo tower) from the Casper Star-Tribune website, here.
More on this modernistic onion-shaped building can be found in this article from the Society of Architectural Historians.
More on Charles Deaton from Wikipedia, here.
All images are larger when clicked.
Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.