Onondaga County Savings Bank now M&T Bank)
Southeast corner of Salina and Erie
|Onondaga County Savings Bank was first incorporated on April 10, 1855.
Its original offices were two blocks north of the current location, at the
middle of 100 South Salina block.
The bank's second location was in the
old Syracuse House which once stood where the bank is today.
The third location was the building now known as the
across the street from the current location.
The bank's fourth and final home was this 10 story "skyscraper,"
as it called when completed in 1897. (Onondaga Bank was purchased by M&T
Bank in 1996).
The building was remodeled in 1931, adding murals and ceiling artwork by
William T. Schwarz, whose father was president of the Bank from 1927 to
The ceiling painting is an astrologically correct representation of the
night sky, depicting the signs of the Zodiac. It is a replica of
a map found by Schwarz in the Library of Congress, drawn by a 15th century astronomer. This, in turn, was copied from an Italian monastery.
To maintain accuracy, the layout was overseen by a professor of astronomy
at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. The artist claimed the location
of the stars was so precise, "You can even use a sextant on it."
Postcard circa 1900
Shying away from conventional materials, Schwarz used blox Belgium paint
containing Ferrara marble dust instead of white lead to prevent cracking and
darkening of colors. The paint was applied to a fabric made of linen
The resulting canvas, in two sections, weighed more than a ton.
Installing it to the ceiling was an engineering feat in itself. The
mural was placed face down on the lobby floor on top of a circus net
borrowed from the famous Ringling family of Sarasota, Florida. The
ceiling was coated with white lead and varnish. Then, using block and
tackle, the mural and net were raised to within an inch of the ceiling.
From there the mural was rolled into place.
Fearing that the painting might not adhere properly, the net was left in
place overnight. The painting hasn't moved since.
The murals on the walls depict historical highlights of the community.
The Great Council of the
League of Five Nations. The first mural depicts the 1743 meeting
that made Onondaga the seat of power for the Iroquois. The dominion
of the Iroquois extended from the Hudson River on the east to Lake
Michigan on the west, from the Ottawa River on the north to the Potomac on
The First Mayor of
Syracuse. The Village of Syracuse, formed in 1825, grew
from a few hundred people to a population of 15,795. In 1848
Syracuse was incorporated as a city and on March 7, of that year Harvey
Baldwin, a Democrat, was elected the first Mayor. His opponent, John
G. Forbes, ran on the Whig Party ticket. The total number of votes cast -- 2,028.
The Opening of the Erie
Canal. The grand celebration marking the completion and formal
opening of the Erie Canal took place October 29, 1825 with Governor Dewitt
Clinton presiding. Actually, portions of the canal had been in use
for several years before and in 1820 the first packet boat, the "Montezuma", with
passengers from the East, had docked in Syracuse.
The Visit of Marquis
Lafayette. The famous military figure of the Revolutionary War
arrived in 1825 by way of Onondaga Hill and Onondaga Valley. His
arrival was celebrated with a parade in Syracuse. At Clinton Square
Lafayette then embarked by boat for Utica.
small mural commemorates the services of the men and women of this
community who gave their lives for their country in the (at that time) three great wars:
The Civil War, the Spanish-American War and the First World War.
The Discovery of Salt by
Father Le Moyne. The Canadian French explored the Onondaga area
in 1653 and a mission, chapel and fort were built near Pompey Hill.
Father Simon LeMoyne, first Jesuit priest to the Onondagas, discovered salt
in the vicinity in 1654. This was the origin of the great salt