First National Bank Building (Davenport, Iowa)

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First National Bank Building
First National Bank Building (Davenport, Iowa).jpg
First National Bank Building (Davenport, Iowa) is located in Iowa
First National Bank Building (Davenport, Iowa)
Location 201 W. 2nd St.
Davenport, Iowa
Coordinates 41°31′16″N 90°34′32″W / 41.52111°N 90.57556°W / 41.52111; -90.57556Coordinates: 41°31′16″N 90°34′32″W / 41.52111°N 90.57556°W / 41.52111; -90.57556
Area less than one acre
Built 1924
Architect Frank A Childs
William Jones Smith
Architectural style Renaissance Revival
Governing body Private
MPS Davenport MRA
NRHP Reference # 83002430[1]
Added to NRHP July 7, 1983

The First National Bank Building is an historic building located in downtown Davenport, Iowa, United States, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now known as the US Bank Building, its main tenant.[2]


The original First National Bank

The National Banking and Currency Act was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1863. First National Bank in Davenport was the first bank in the country to open under the new act.[3] The bank was headed by Austin Corbin, who had previously been with Macklot and Corbin in Davenport. A $12.60 check written by Henry Hess was the first check in the country to clear the new banking system.[4] The bank suffered some financial difficulties in the 1870s and was re-chartered in 1882. In the 1920s First National Bank merged with Iowa National Bank and maintained the name of the former. After the Bank Holiday in 1933, First National Bank was taken over by Union Savings Bank and Trust. The upper floors of the building remained occupied after the bank’s failure, but the main banking room was not occupied by another bank again until the late 20th century. In the meantime, the main floor had been used for retail. Tenants on the upper floors are mainly professionals such as dentists, medical doctors, attorneys, and insurance agents.[2]


The First National Bank Building is the third building on the same site for the bank. It replaced a building that was destroyed by a fire.[2] The building was designed by Chicago architects Frank A. Childs and William Jones Smith in the Renaissance Revival style. It rises 144 feet (44 m)[5] above the ground and includes nine floors with a steel frame and brick construction. The structure is built on a concrete foundation and is faced with stone. Its form is restrained, but the decoration on the lower level of the building is not. The stylistic details evoke the Renaissance Revival style and combines classical precedents with forms that are associated with the sixteenth century Italian Renaissance.[2] These stylistic elements are combined with the technological advances of the Chicago School.[2]

Spandrel figure above main entrance by Adolph A. Weinman

The building can be divided into three sections: a two-story base; five floors of offices; and a two-story section at the top that terminates in a bracketed cornice.[6] The lower level of the building is a tall arcade of round arches and pilasters with detailed capitals. The capitals feature carvings of eagles and buffalo among floral motifs. The main entrance on Second Street is in a recessed rounded arch in the center of the building. An ornate bronze screen above the doors is covered with urns, floral designs and Grecian or Roman figures.[3] There are four scenes across the top of the frieze. The first scene depicts men mining metal, the second depicts the metal being stamped into coins, the third depicts the weighing and counting of the coins, and the fourth depicts trade. The bronze work was created by John Polachek Bronze & Iron Company, who had a close association with Louis Comfort Tiffany as well as other prominent artists and architects in the early 20th Century.[7]

Above the doorway arch are two reclining figures created by Adolph A. Weinman, who was also responsible for the pediment over the Jefferson Memorial entrance in Washington, D.C. and the frieze in the courtroom of the U.S. Supreme Court.[7] There are also carved figures on the inside of the archway. The figures on the left depict labor, agriculture, industry, and commerce. On the right are depictions of law, philosophy, military, and banking. There is an inscription above the third floor of the building which notes that the building housed the first National bank in the United States.[8]

A clock that was originally mounted on the Scott County Savings Bank building was mounted on the northeast corner of the building in 1994. The clock was made of copper in 1918 and weighs 600 pounds.[2] An awning was built on the west side of the building to cover the lanes of the motor banking facilities and ATMs. The first floor interior has been modified from its original appearance and it retains little of historic importance.

The five floors of office space that makeup the second section provide a contrast with the base of the building. Except for quoins, they are unadorned. The windows in this section are set close to the exterior wall plane. A narrow cornice divides the second and third sections. Its two-story pilasters emphasize the structure's vertical thrust, but the dark, recessed spandrels counteract the effect.[6] The building culminates in a wide, bracketed, overhanging cornice.

The building was voted one of the 50 Most Significant Iowa Buildings of the 20th Century by the Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.[9] It was one of five buildings that represented the 1920s.



  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "First National Bank Building" (PDF). Davenport Public Library. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  3. ^ a b Svendsen, Marls A., Bowers, Martha H (1982). Davenport where the Mississippi runs west: A Survey of Davenport History & Architecture. Davenport, Iowa: City of Davenport. p. 5-4. 
  4. ^ Roba, William, Anderson, Fredrick I. (ed.) (1982). Joined by a River: Quad Cities. Davenport: Lee Enterprises. p. 76. 
  5. ^ "US Bank Building". Retrieved 2012-01-09. 
  6. ^ a b Wehner, Nowysz, Pottschull and Pfiffner. "First National Bank Building" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-04-16. 
  7. ^ a b Bruce Walters (2012-01-12). "Art in Plain Sight: First National Bank Building". River Cities' Reader. Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  8. ^ "FIRST - National Bank in the United States - Davenport, Iowa". Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  9. ^ "A Century of Iowa Architecture: 50 Most Significant Iowa Buildings of the 20th Century". Iowa Public Television. Retrieved 2012-01-19. 

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