53. Gwangwonggwan, the Country’s Oldest Bank Building
The country’s oldest bank building, located in Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, was named Gwangtonggwan, as it was located close to Gwangtongyo Bridge. Built in 1909, it is still used as a bank branch.
The building was restored after its destruction by fire in 1914, but its appearance has changed considerably in parts. The two-story building (total floor space: 773 ㎡) was made of bricks. The first floor was used by Cheonil Bank and Suhyeong Cooperative, while the second floor was used as a meeting room. The façade of the building was decorated with granite Ionic columns. Granite stones were also used in the pediments of the upper central section of the building and the parapet above the eaves. The baroque-style twin domes in both wings add to its gorgeousness and grandeur.
The exquisite beauty of the building is emphasized by the meticulousness displayed by the round and arch-topped windows and the ornamental parapet of the roof. Letters that indicate that it used to be the Jongro Branch of Joseon Commercial Bank can still be seen on the upper part of the entrance.