First National Bank

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First National Bank
First National Bank

The year is 1886... and it has been eventful. In 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated, Coca-cola was introduced, Geronimo surrendered at Skeleton Canyon, and Robert Louis Stevenson finished writing "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." And, in the Midwest, Col. James Abernathy and James Lombard opened a bank.

That bank was First National Bank. It opened on March 1, 1886. The bank was successful, and quickly outgrew its first building (Junction Building - the site is now a fountain dividing Main Street), and moved to the Heist Building in 1891, an eight story skyscraper located north of the 8th Street viaduct on Main Street.

After 20 years of growth, the bank moved to Baltimore and Tenth Street on April 15, 1906. This new building cost $450,000, which included $90,000 for land. Wilder and Wight, local architects, designed the building. Thomas Wight later designed the Nelson Art Gallery.

The building was exceptional. Extensive use was made of marble in the building's interior. The president's office was finished in Camodillo mahogany from Peru, with a marble fireplace. There were also three huge columns placed outside the building. In 1905, a crowd gathered and cheered the workmen on as they maneuvered the 14-ton sections of column into place with a huge steam engine.

Additional land was purchased around the bank building in 1919, and the bank began expanding its physical properties in 1925. Soon after, in 1926 (the bank's 40th anniversary), the expansion opened. The new space housed a savings department and a safe deposit vault.

First National Bank Interior
First National Bank Interior

In 1941, the property north of the bank was purchased for an expansion, and in 1944, the bank purchased two buildings north of the bank on Baltimore Avenue. In 1952, the bank purchased the garage and double deck parking facilities immediately west of the bank on Baltimore. This provided "across the street parking" that was free to bank customers. And in 1956, the parking garage on the northwest corner of Tenth and Baltimore was purchased.

By 1964, the purchases of 1941 and 1944 had turned into an 84,000 square foot addition with two basement levels and four stories above-ground. This expansion nearly doubled the size of the bank. The fourth expansion included customer parking, escalator service, and one-floor banking. This expansion was designed to blend architecturally. The marble for the exterior came from the same quarry that supplied marble for the original 1906 building.

In 1968, the bank decided to develop the west side of the block between 9th and 10th streets on Main. This became the 20-story Ten Main Center building. The bank occupied two levels of Ten Main Center.

Soon thereafter, in 1969, bank administrators formed a multi-bank holding company, called First National Charter Corporation. First National Bank and Leawood National Bank were the first two affiliates. In the next 15 years, the corporation would acquire 27 Missouri banks and change its name to CharterCorp.

In 1976, the bank introduced the first ATM machines to Kansas City residents.

In 1980, CharterCorp bought Ten Main Center, and First National Bank occupied additional floors for its growing needs.

In 1985, a series of mergers began that would signal the beginning of the end for people working in the bank building. In 1985, First National Bank merged with Boatmen's Bancshares, and was renamed Boatmen's First National Bank. This created Missouri’s largest banking organization.

Central Library at night
Central Library at night

Then in 1997, Boatmen's Bancshares merged with NationsBank, and then in 1998 NationsBank merged with BankAmerica and became Bank of America.

In 1999, Bank of America's Kansas City regional headquarters consolidated by moving into One Kansas City Place. A press release on the Bank of America website stated "At the present time, NationsBank will continue to own the 10th & Baltimore bank building. No further decision will be made concerning the building until after the first of the year... the older 10th & Baltimore bank building has reached the point where it would require significant remodeling costs to continue occupancy."

The building was empty until 2002, when workers started remodeling it for the new Central Library of the Kansas City Public Library.

Timeline:
March 1, 1886 First National Bank opens for business in the Junction Building at 9th, Main and Delaware Streets.
March 1, 1891 Moved to Heist Building at 8th and Main.
April 15, 1906 Bank moves to the 10th and Baltimore building
February 10, 1918 Bank purchases the Zahner property, adjoining the bank property on the east, for $80,000.
March 1, 1926 East addition is opened to house a savings department and a safe deposit vault. Main bank lobby is remodeled.
May 4, 1944 Bank purchases property north of the building for future expansion.
May 2, 1955 Inter-State National Bank is merged into First National Bank.
May 26, 1956 Bank purchases parking garage at northwest corner of Tenth and Baltimore.
February 10, 1964 Four-story addition, north of main bank, is opened for
business.
May 1968 Twenty-story Ten Main Center is opened, with First National occupying lobby space on the ground floor.
December 3, 1968 First National Charter Corporation is incorporated.
October 1, 1969 First National Charter Corporation begins operating at a registered multi-bank holding company. First National Bank and Leawood National Bank become the first two affiliates.
August 29, 1980 First National Charter Corporation purchases Ten Main Center building to provide space for future growth of First National Bank.
June 24, 1982 First National Charter Corporation changes its name to CharterCorp.
January 28, 1985 CharterCorp and Boatmen’s Bancshares, Inc. merge. The bank’s name becomes Boatmen’s First National Bank of Kansas City.
1997 Boatmen’s Bancshares merges with NationsBank.
1998 NationsBank merges with BankAmerica and becomes Bank of America.
1999 Bank of America consolidates its downtown offices, leaving the Tenth and Baltimore building empty.
2000 Contracted to create a new Central Library in the First National bank building at 10th and Baltimore, estimated cost $46,000,000.
2004 Central Library moves to its new building

 

Notes:
First National to Build at Tenth and Baltimore. (1904, October 25). Kansas City Journal, p. 5.
Boatmen’s First National Bank of Kansas City. 1986.

FIRST Century: A Review of the First 100 Years of "the FIRST." First National Bank of Kansas City. 1961. Our 75th Anniversary Year, 1886 “ 1961. Bank of America. (1999, June 15).

Bank to Consolidate Kansas City Regional Headquarters. Accessed January 15, 2003 from
http://www.bankofamerica.com/newsroom/press/press.cfm?PressID=press.19990615.01.htm