Sunday, October 18, 2009

Main Street Stories: First National Bank Building

The building at 339 S. Main Street has been occupied by the same type of business for its entire history thus far, and is one of only a handful in the downtown district that may claim the distinction. In 1924, directors of the First National Bank of Rochester, which was then located at 338 S. Main (in the Opera House block now occupied by Lytle Pharmacy), decided that the bank needed larger quarters and purchased property across the street on the southwest corner of Fourth and Main.

The Bond-Hubbard Company of Chicago designed and built the new bank block, which included office, retail and apartment spaces in addition to the bank quarters. Dillman and Upton supplied the building materials, including brick, hollow tile, cement, plaster and lumber for the $100,000 project.

The new bank opened its doors to the public on February 14, 1925. A few years later, during the banking crisis of the Great Depression, First National Bank of Rochester was liquidated and re-organized as the Rochester National Bank. When the bank re-opened, under the leadership of Milton H. Haselswerdt, community members showed their confidence by opening more than 400 new accounts. Haselswerdt was commended for restructuring the old bank without any harm to depositors.

In May 1955, Rochester National Bank merged with National Bank of Detroit, so the name on the front of the building changed, but not its purpose. National Bank of Detroit then became known as NBD Bank after its merger with First National Bank of Chicago in 1995. Four years later, another merger changed the name of the institution to Bank One, and in 2006, Bank One became part of J.P. Morgan Chase, the current occupant of the building.

The First National Bank Building will celebrate its 85th birthday this coming February.

This ca. 1961 photo shows the building wearing the National Bank of Detroit name.

1 comment: