The twenty-story First National Bank Building at 112 South Tryon Street was built in 1927, the year this photograph was taken. Once the tallest building in the Carolinas, it remained as the tallest building in Charlotte for forty years. Established in 1865, the First National Bank of Charlotte was the first federal bank in the postwar South and the first North Carolina bank permitted to print its own national banknotes. Charlotte thrived after it survived the Civil War mostly intact, and the arrival of this significant financial institution contributed greatly to its economic boom. Bank president Henry McAden chose to build the institution’s new 250-foot headquarters at a time when Charlotte was exploding with growth, symbolized by the arrival of several banks and new skyscrapers. When the First National Bank Building opened in September 1927, the Charlotte branch of the Federal Reserve opened on the nineteenth floor, confirming the city’s place as a banking center.
First National Bank Building, 1927
Despite the optimistic feelings in Charlotte about the economic growth, the nation was heading toward economic collapse. The First National Bank closed the doors of its new skyscraper in 1930, and three more of Charlotte’s seven banks followed suit during the Great Depression. Despite the demise of its namesake, the building remained the First National Bank Building until 1942, when it became the Liberty Life Building. By 1964 it was still the tallest building in Charlotte and had received a renovation and a new name as the Baugh Building. Today the First National Bank Building is one of the few early skyscrapers that still exist in Charlotte and stands as a symbol of the city’s banking heritage, surrounded all around by the more modern steel and glass towers of other financial institutions.
First National Bank Building, present day
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass