At 12 stories high, the building once known as the Citizens National Bank building is downtown Decatur's best claim to a skyscraper.
Now known as the Barnes Citizens Building, the Citizens National Bank building or, most simply, the Citizens building, was built at the beginning of the Great Depression. It connected to its southern and much shorter neighbor, the Citizens National Bank.
The Art Deco style building opened in 1930, plowing over the Masonic Lodge Temple that used to stand at the southeast corner of East William and North Water streets.
Topping out at 161 feet, the Citizens building is Decatur's second-tallest building behind what was once known as the A.E. Staley Co. Administration building. With the building's monopoly on the downtown skyline, the big “C” perched on its summit could be seen for miles around.
For decades, the “C”, a tribute to its name, would change colors or flash, providing residents with a readily available weather forecast.
The landmark letter was retired in 1990. Now, a weather camera perches on top, showing live views of downtown.
A parking garage was later built behind the building, but after years of service, the seldom-used parking garage had become blight on downtown and was demolished in 2013.
Over the years, the Citizens building played host to doctors' offices and law firms. Neuhoff Media, which operates several radio stations, including WSOY, moved its offices to the first floor in 2007 and is one of the few remaining residents in the historic building.
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