Editorial: When Will PNC Bank’s Iconic Gold Dome Be Refurbished? 

“Spring Cleaning Should Be for Everyone,” we editorialized last month, praising the Georgetown BID’s various efforts to spruce up Georgetown’s commercial district by removing graffiti, repairing sidewalks, mounting flower baskets, power-washing streets, working on streatery and transportation programs and the like. 

But we wanted to give the Farmers & Mechanics branch of PNC Bank at Wisconsin and M Streets the chance to respond to our criticism that, for the sake of community, perhaps they might “slap a little ‘gold’ paint” on their building’s iconic cupola.  

After all, the building is not just a random bank. No more recognizable landmark for the Georgetown commercial district exists than the 1922 neoclassical bank’s topping, with gold-leaf added in 1961 when Riggs National Bank operated on the site. In 1967 the building became a “contributing property” to the Georgetown Historic District’s designation as a National Historic Landmark District.  

Sadly, the gold dome and cupola atop the rounded corner portico is now looking faded and sad. But what’s the bank doing about it? 

We provided the bank’s branch manager, Anamul Hassan, time and notice to provide us a statement but received no response from his office. Senior relations banker, Garrett Gallego, however, spoke with us. “Our gold dome is a figure in the Georgetown community. It’s such a shame to see [it] fading,” he said. “It’s one of the most photographed buildings in town. And despite [the project] possibly being expensive, I’d love to see it re-painted.” But the decision to re-paint the gold dome has to be kicked up to PNC’s Realty Services, Gallego emphasized, and that has yet to be done. 

Another PNC employee privy to discussions told us “It’s much more complicated than ‘simply slapping gold paint’ on the thing.” The requirement to mount scaffolding for the project would also be difficult, [they] suggested. After consultations with management, however, [they] decided “No comment” was the best response. 

While bureaucratic inertia might help explain why the gilding continues to fade, tight finances are no excuse. According to March 2023 financial statements, PNC is a $42 billion company “managing $562 billion in assets.” 

Certainly, some scaffolding, gold leaf or paint can be requisitioned. But, does PNC share the sense of community required? 


If you have an opinion on this, please send it to Editorial@Georgetowner.com.



5 comments on “Editorial: When Will PNC Bank’s Iconic Gold Dome Be Refurbished? ”

  • Two suggestions–

    PNC Bank customers at the Georgetown branch should vote with their feet and consider terminating their accounts if the dome cannot be restored. Customers would voice their concerns to the branch manager.

    Why not elevate thus issue to DC’s local TV stations? I’m confident one or more stations would find this issue of general interest to their viewers throughout the DC metro area. More embarrassing publicity is most likely what PNC Bank management needs to take a more proactive approach to serving our community interests.

    btw, Any follow-up on your efforts to spruce up the Truist Bank building at 31st and M Streets?

    • Christopher Jones says:

      Thanks for you comments and suggestions. We’re working to follow-up on the various entities in Georgetown who could use a little sprucing up. We appreciate your readership!

    • Mike says:

      First world problems in Georgetown, eh ?

  • One thing I need to mention, the gold coating on the dome is not any type of paint. Rather it is very thin sheets of genuine gold leaf, at least 23 Karat gold, which have been adhered onto a properly prepared and primed substrate. This is called gilding. While gilding is more expensive compared to painting, there is no other coating or paint which has the lustre or durability of a properly gilded surface. Check out the Mormon Temple by the beltway in MD or the Flame atop the Library of Congress dome to see properly gilded surfaces which have lasted decades. It’s time for the good folks at PNC to get off their $$$ and do the right thing.

  • zidane says:

    thank you for the article

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