building history

Bank & Bourbon is located on the ground floor of the iconic Philadelphia Savings Fund Society (PSFS) building and was carefully designed with the utmost reverence for the building’s original integrity.

PSFS was the first savings bank in the United States. During the 1920s, the Savings Fund began to outgrow its headquarters, the increasing volume of banking business and growth in population made it necessary to expand and in 1929 the bank commissioned the construction of a 36-story, 491-foot skyscraper that would provide for the banking and office activities of the Society.

In the midst of the Great Depression, the building was built and equipped at an estimated cost of $8 million and was opened in stages between 1932 and 1933. The $8 million cost was an overwhelming amount during the depression. Today, the building’s materials and features would be near impossible to afford.

The PSFS building is considered one of the most significant buildings of the 20th century. The building revolutionized urban landscape. The structure was the world’s second skyscraper to have central air-conditioning. The public referred to it has “weather in a box.” The public was convinced that central air conditioning was harmful to their health, so for one week, the engineer spent 24 hours a day in the building to prove it was not harmful.

The architects, George Howe and William Lescaze, made certain every detail of the building was perfect. From the marble and granite from 32 different countries to the rare woods used throughout the hotel. Cartier designed clocks were on each floor making a dramatic statement. In 1969 the local AIA voted it the most important building in the city in the last hundred years. By 1979 it was put on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the fortune of PSFS began to change as a nationwide economic downturn and deregulation of the banking industry led to a banking crisis. The company had expanded operations and acquired the name Meritor Financial Group. PSFS remaining the flagship of the parent company.

In 1989 and under heavy pressure from the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC), Meritor agreed to sell fiftyfour suburban branches to the Mellon Bank Corporation for $335 million. Mellon also purchased the right to use “PSFS” on its area branches. On December 11, 1992, Meritor Savings Bank closed its doors for business. The PSFS building became just another of the thousands of real estate properties in the hands of the FDIC.

In 1997, hotelier Jonathan Tisch announced that the PSFS building would be converted into a Loews Hotel. Conversion into a hotel began in 1998, and the Loews Philadelphia Hotel opened in April 2000. The hotel takes full advantage of the historical features of the building. In 2014, the PSFS building added Bank & Bourbon, an original concept featuring a world class bar program and inherently American fare, led by chef Thomas Harkins.