215 High Street, known as the British Linen Bank of 1895, was designed by architect James Salmon Jnr, one of the masters of the Glasgow Style in the last century and friend of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Salmon, who was affectionately nicknamed “Wee Trout” due to his small size had a gift for great design.Though diminutive like its creator, the British Linen Bank with a crow-stepped gable, statue at the apex and an open lattice wooden dome, was designed very early in Salmon’s career.The building with its Edwardian Renaissance details stands in isolation now and hints at the emerging Glasgow Style with some Art Nouveau detailing.
After being virtually derelict for many years the ground floor (the former banking hall) was acquired in 2015 by the Civic Room. This is a non-profit gallery guided by an Advisory including artists, curators and leading architects. The plan is to share critical engagement between artists and the built urban spaces surrounding High Street, and local communities. Civic Room is exploring the redevelopment of this historic site through the High Street Linen Bank (HSLB) conservation group. This is very hopeful as it looked doomed as University student accommodation and hi-tech buildings sprang up on almost every side, save for the Old College Bar across the lane from it and a short row of dilapidated shops.The first and second floors are accessed through a padlocked gated entrance in the lane, which looks abandoned with a broken window above and debris all around. It is difficult to imagine anyone having such a dilapidated entrance to their home although there are curtains on the windows of the upper floors.