A Sign of the Times

In 1919, the Industrial Savings Bank was experiencing the most phenomenal growth of any bank in Michigan history and hired New York architects Davis, McGrath, and Kiessling to design a 12 story structure to fulfill its motto - "the bank of convenience". The building was reportedly designed after the Ancient Temple of the Four Winds in Athens, Greece. The Industrial Savings Bank, now known as the Northbank Center, was the epitome of architectural aesthetics and the utmost of modern-day know-how at that time. The steel framed, reinforced concrete building stands at a height of 156 ft. and is faced with Indiana limestone and light colored brick. The building cost a whopping $1.5 million to erect and featured luxury finishes including marble-lined corridors which still exist in some areas today, and bronze framed teller cages and bank doors. 

First occupied in 1923, the bank was the first state bank in Michigan to be a member of the Federal Reserve System, the first in Flint to have a branch, the first to institute Christmas Club savings, and the largest in the state outside of Detroit.

Notable directors of the bank included C.S. Mott, General Motors Vice President and world financier; Walter P. Chrysler, locomotive engineering expert and founder of the Chrysler Corporation; A.B.C. Hardy, Flint's first auto manufacturer and Charles W. Nash, father of Nash Motor Company (American Motors).  Other prominent tenants of the building included the Flint Auto Club and the Industrial Mutual Association (IMA) who occupied the top five floors and provided a gymnasium, showers, bowling alleys, billiard parlors, and well-appointed club rooms and lounges for auto workers and their families. A canopied balcony restaurant on the top floor allowed diners a view of Flint seen only by the copper lions which encircled the top of the building. Known as the "IMA in the Clouds," the association's motto was "someplace to go in Flint."

From 1923 to 1927 the Flint Institute of Technology was located in the building which grew to become General Motors Institute. In 1929, the Industrial Savings Bank merged with Union Trust and Savings Bank, becoming the Union Industrial Trust Savings Bank. With this merger, a new building was erected copying the Industrial Savings Bank Building (Northbank Center) which is known today as the Mott Foundation Building.

Among Union Industrial employees, a group was formed which would become known as "the league of gentleman." This group began speculating on the New York Stock Exchange with the bank's deposits and eventually was convicted of stealing $3.52 million to fuel their "get-rich-quick" schemes which was dubbed the biggest embezzlement in US history. When the stock market crashed in 1929, C.S. Mott withdrew from his personal accounts the $3.52 million in an effort to save the bank and instill confidence in its depositors. Despite Mott's valiant efforts, the bank closed in 1933. 

By the late 1920's IMA activities were so popular, new quarters were necessary. By 1939 the IMA moved all of its activities out of the Industrial Savings Bank building.

In 1941 the UAW-CIO leased the 7th, 11th, and 12th floors. By December 1943 the Greater Flint Industrial Union Council adopted the name Flint Labor Temple Association and paid $100,000 cash to the Flint Depositor's Corporation for the Industrial Savings Bank building. The association reportedly spent $75,000 to renovate the building, including installation of new heating units and copper piping.

In 1943 the Flint Board of Education rejected an offer from C.S. Mott to purchase the building to use as a combined technical high school and trade school, the board claimed the necessary changes would be too expensive. 

The building was listed on the Nation Register of Historic Places in the year 1984 and somewhere between 1984 and 1993 the building was renamed to Northbank Center. In February 1999, the University of Michigan - Flint acquired the Northbank Center (NBC) and began renovating it into classrooms and office space. The acquisition was possible through a $450,000 gift-grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation. Almost immediately after renovations, University departments and academic programs started moving into NBC.  

Since UM-Flint acquired NBC, additional general fund departments and academic programs have moved into NBC along with many other external tenants. By fall 2013 the English as a Second Language (ESL) program occupied newly renovated offices and classroom space on the 8th floor. In 2015 the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) moved into newly renovated space within NBC as well.  The Northbank Center has 4 conference spaces available for short-term rental one of which is the Grand Ballroom on the 1st floor with over 5,000 feet of floor space and 30-foot-tall ceilings that accommodates up to 320 guests at round tables. The space is often used for banquets and conferences.