The People's Savings Bank was designed by Louis Henry Sullivan and was completed in 1912. Originally to be built in 1909, the city of Cedar Rapids rejected the bank as being too expensive. Sullivan ultimately got the idea approved by reducing the cost of the structure by cutting back on some of the terra cotta ornamentation as well as a few other details. The total cost of the building was $64,000.
The exterior brick was produced in 15 different shades to show "the effect of an antique Oriental rug," quoted by Sullivan. The interior of the building includes clerestory walls and murals by Allen Philbrick depicting life in rural Iowa.
Sullivan, who was born in 1856, was considered by many as the "father of Skyscrapers" and the "father of modernism." He was a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright and received many recognitions for his buildings. Following the tough economic times in the late 1800's, Sullivan obtained a few commissions for Midwest banks, with the People's Savings Bank as one.
The bank remained the People's Savings Bank until 1989 when Norwest purchased the building. Then a few years later Wells Fargo got control of the building and changed the name again.
The bank was restored in 1991 by Chicago architect Wilbert Hasbrouck. This ten month, $1.4 million restoration removed an addition of a dropped ceiling that shielded Sullivan's glass windows of the original 1912 building.
Since Sullivan's passing in 1924, many of Sullivan's buildings have been lost to fire, natural disasters or demolition. The Wells Fargo Bank was almost added to that list in 2008 when Cedar Rapids experienced a severe flood.
The building was named to the Preservation Iowa's Most Endangered Properties list in 2012. In December of 2012, GRR-DTE, LLC purchased the building and went through the legalities of how to preserve the building and create a restaurant.
By fall of 2013, plans for Popoli Ristorante and Sullivan's Bar were in the beginning stages.