While out for a walk on Sunday morning I happened upon this old building, the former Corn Exchange Bank at 125th St and Park Ave. An odd name for a bank in Harlem. Last fall Rachelle found a different branch of the bank downtown and has thoughtfully already researched the history of the bank. I couldn't help but do a little research of my own. As it turns out, this particular branch played a tiny, but crucial, role in one of the most notorious crimes of the last century --the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
The toddler son of Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh was kidnapped from their home in New Jersey on March 1, 1932. A series of ransom notes were received by the Lindberghs or their representative. Money was paid, but the baby was found dead just a few miles from the house. No suspects were apprehended. More than two years later, $10 and $20 gold certificate bills were found in Harlem and Yorkville. On September 18, 1934 a teller at the Corn Exchange Bank. The Corn Exchange Bank above. The certificate was traced to a gas station at 127th and Lexington. The gas station attendent, being suspicious of the gold certificate, wrote down the license plate number of the car driven by the gas purchaser. That car was owned by Bruno Richard Hauptmann. Hauptmann was subsequently tried, convicted, and electrocuted.
Even more trivially, a young Burt Lancaster once found a twenty dollar bill outside the bank.
The building was originally the Mount Morris Bank and Safety Deposit Vaults and was designed by Charles Alonzo Rich in 1883. Here is a pre-1913 sketch of the building. In 1913 the Mound Morris Bank became part of the Corn Exchange Bank. The bank has been vacant since the late 1970s. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building is scheduled to be renovated. A high-rise Courtyard Marriott hotel is going to be built across 125th St next year.
Sorry about the overexposed quality of the top picture. I wanted to take more photos, especially of the building's details, but a voice started calling me from above...