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First National Bank
El Paso, Texas


Description: First National Bank
Other Names: First National Bank,  Chemical Bank &  Trust Company and American Furniture Company
Address: 109-117 East San Antonio at Oregon; 105 North Oregon Street at East San Antonio Avenue, El Paso, El Paso County, Texas
Type: bank and office building
Original Client: American National Bank
Historic Inventory:
Date: 1909-1911 (December 1910 exterior complete), first stage; 1913, second stage
Condition: extant but vacant

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost & Trost
Contractors: Joseph E. Morgan
Dimensions and Orientation: seven stories; first stage 48 feet on East San Antonio Avenue, and 112 feet on North Oregon Street, with main entrance facing San Antonio (South). The second stage added 72 feet on San Antonio  and extended west to the alley, giving the entire bank building a space that covered a quarter of  block.
Budget/Cost: first stage: $250,000

Foundation: concrete
Wall Materials: reinforced concrete with an exterior finish of yellow brick (yellow terra cotta)
Roofing Materials: composition
Other Materials Used: cast iron first floor frame; inner walls brick; terra cotta ornament; marble lobby
Remodeling and Additions: remodeled by Trost & Trost in 1925 and 1943. McKee contractor in 1948

Present Owner:
Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library (U-4) 34 ink on linen sheets, 1911; (M-19) 32 ink-on-linen sheets, 1913; (M-18) 3 ink-on-linen sheets for alterations dated December, 1925; (G-6) 4 tissue sheets, 1943.
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library: Aultman A5022, first stage; A5049, detail of upper four floors; A5854, second stage being completed; A5318, view of West side; Ponsford 131, perspective view; Ponsford 141, wide-angle view of interior; 122 perspective view.

Bibliography: (1) Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht, Henry C. Trost: Architect of the Southwest (El Paso: El Paso Public Library Association, 1981), pages 48, bird’s-eye map of El Paso; pages 97 and 99, mentioned
(2) El Paso Times, August 24, 1909, page [1] (description of building, architects named, budget given)
(3) Sketches Are Made for Eight Story Home for American National, El Paso Herald, August 25, 1909, page 15 (description of building, budget estimated)
(4) El Paso Herald, November 8, 1910 ‘Putting Cornice Upon the American National Building’
(5) El Paso Herald, March 14, 1914 “First National Bank Home’ page 7 & 5
(6) El Paso Herald, December 10, 1910 page 16 picture of the building in a advertisement
(7) El Paso Herald, March 2, 1910 page 2 ‘Patriotic Decoration for the American National Bank’
(8) El Paso Herald, January 28, 1944 page 1 Bank Building Purchased by J.B. Blaugrund

In August of 1909, the sketches for an eight story structure of the American National bank building were being drawn by Trost & Trost. The building was to be located on the corner of San Antonio and Oregon Street. It had not been determined whether the building would be steel or concrete, but it was determined that it would be 48 feet by 120 feet. The cost in excess of $100,000. The bank would be located in the corner of the building and the upper floors would be offices.

In March of 1910, it was decided that the coat of arms of the United States would have a prominent place in the decorative scheme of the building. Over both entrances would be a large shield, surmounted by an American eagle with extended wings. This was the trademark of the bank. The design was included in the plans.

In December of 1910, the terra cotta cornice were placed on the building. The exterior of the seven story building was now completed. The terra cornice were designed by Trost & Trost and purchased through the Awbry & Sempe company.

In 1913, the First National Bank building was combined with the old American National bank building. The new bank building extended west to the alley, giving the entire bank building a space that covered a quarter of a block and extended seven stories with a court in the center.

The building was reinforced concrete with an exterior finish of yellow press bricks and yellow terra cotta finish. The entrance from Oregon and the two entrances from San Antonio street were done in bronze, with massive columns of Missouri red granite. Over the entrances in bronze letters was the name of the bank.
The interior of the banking room were finished in ornamental plaster, which was designed by Trost & Trost. Guy Zierold, a El Paso artist and molder, made all the ornamental plaster for the interior of the building. The decorations were in a French gray with highlights of gold tint.

Four large mural paintings depicting the characteristics of the southwest decorated the east wall. The interior walls and all the bank furnishings were made of Circassian walnut. The floors were marble and the counter rails were bronze. The floors were the bank teller stood, were Acme preparation of wood pulp. This provided a comfortable surface to stand on for a long period of time. All the interior decorations were done under the direction of Trost & Trost.

The building was absolutely fireproof. The windows were wire glass set in steel casting and would not break or allow any fire to penetrate to the interior of the building. The building was reinforced concrete with a brick veneer. The building had three elevators. There was two operating on Oregon street side and a high power quick speed service car operating to the roof. This provided a quick evacuation of the building. In addition there were fire escapes were on both sides of the building

The building was remodeled by Trost & Trost in 1925 and 1943. The building was also know as the American Furniture Company. J.B Blaugrund of American Furniture Company purchased the building in 1944 from Chemical Bank & Trust Company of New York, which acquired it after the First National Bank closed in 1931.

Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990