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First National Bank II
Life Span: 1868-1871, Restored in 1872
Location: SW corner of State and Washington Streets
Architect: Edward Burling
The most important transaction of this era was the purchase of the lot on the southwest corner of State and Washington streets. Vice-president Gray, who was charged with the negotiations, secured the transfer of this piece of ground—measuring fifty-five feet on State street by eighty-four feet on Washington street—during the last week in March, 1867, for the sum of $83,500, being equivalent to $1,500 per foot on the State street frontage. The conditions of payment were one-fourth cash and balance in three equal installments, payable one, two, and three years after date, bearing interest at the rate of seven per cent semi-annually. In September, a building committee, consisting of Messrs. Nickerson, Walker, Gray, and Talcott, was appointed. A fire-proof edifice was projected, which was furnished and occupied in the spring of 1868.
First National Bank II
The Land Owner, February 1872
As described in Industrial Chicago:
The old First National Bank building, on the southwest corner of State and Washington streets, was completed* in 1872 at a cost of $295,000, $75,000 of which was spent on restoration after the fire. It was considered a fire-proof house—iron, stone, and brick being the exclusive material, but it did not prove itself so in the presence of the great fire of 1871, for the inner vaults were the only portions of the building untouched by fire. Part of the walls fell in and the iron work was twisted or melted. It was a Florentine building, with balustraded portico in cut-off and pediment from the cornice. Prior to the introduction of modern houses the old First National Bank was considered a rare architectural work, and was spoken of in connection with the Palmer, Tremont, Field, and other leading houses.
*This should read “restored,” as just stated in text. The building was originally finished in 1868.
Ross and Gossage, a dry goods house, was located in the “L” shaped building to the south and west of the bank. Name of the building is unknown.
A notable event is the action taken on December 30, 1879, in reference to new quarters. At a meeting of the board of directors, held on that day, Mr. Porter called attention to the cramped appearance and the existing inconveniences in the office arrangements, and it was voted:
Whereas, the increase of business of this bank imperatively demands increase of room, and facilities to properly accommodate it, therefore,
Resolved, that the president and cashier be and they are hereby appointed a committee to ascertain and report upon the feasibility of procuring more, whether by the alteration of present building and purchasing adjoining lot, or by the sale of present building and the purchase of new lot.
The project of enlarging the structure then occupied by the institution was soon found impracticable; consideration was therefore given to the selection of another site. During the summer of 1880 the decision was gradually reached that the northwest corner of Dearborn and Monroe streets, where before the fire the post-ofifice had stood, would be an admirable location. This lot was school property. In the original proposition made to the Board of Education it was contemplated to take a lease for fifty years with an additional option of twenty years, and to erect a fireproof building, of which the upper floor should be rented to the board and to the public library. It was also necessary to buy out the leasehold interest held by J. H. Haverly in the old post-office building, then known as the Haverly Theatre.
An early view of the Bank before 5th story was added.
Intersection of Stae and Washington. The fancy sidewalk of the Field, Leiter and Company store can be seen in the foreground.
Photographer: Charles R. Clark
Photographer: Copelin and Melander
First National Bank of Chicago
After the Fire of 1871