Western Union Building (Commercial National Bank)
The Commercial National Bank was one of DC's first stripped classical buildings, inspiring many later iterations.
The Commercial National Bank, designed by noted Washington architect Waddy B. Wood in 1917, is an excellent early example of the simplified and stylized classicism that distinguishes some of DC’s most noteworthy early-twentieth century buildings. Commercial National Bank was among the first major buildings in Washington to embody the characteristics of this stripped classicism.
The abstract classical vocabulary displayed here in 1917 appeared repeatedly through DC’s architectural landscape in the 1920s and 1930s. However, the originality of Commercial National Bank’s stylized classical vocabulary and the subtlety of its expression makes it unique for this early date. This powerful building marks an important transition from Wood’s earlier, more literal use of traditional architectural forms to the boldness and abstraction of his later buildings.
DC Inventory: July 16, 1986
National Register: October 11, 1991