Moment in Time: First National Bank, Circa 1907
By Joe Bachman
Few people may realize that stepping into U.S. Bank on W. Grand Ave. is stepping into a piece of local banking history, with roots to the east as far as Brooklyn, New York.
The First National Bank, (current day U.S. Bank) opened on June 18, 1872, and has seen various locations and changes through it’s history. However, it wasn’t always located where it presently stands.
Before the space was occupied by the old labor temple building, the former Good Times Charlie’s, and now part of the Triangle Redevelopment, it was the first site of the First National Bank on what is now known as 1st St. North and Jackson St.
Jeremiah D. Witter, a Brooklyn attorney and banker, founded the bank with a starting capitalization of $50,000. These funds were gained through private investments, all stemming from an 1871 shipment of $5,000 in gold he received from New Lisbon.
Pictured, is the second inception of the First National Bank built in 1906. The bank moved down the street to the corner of 1st St. and 2nd St. North, which is now occupied by law offices.
A sign of a growing Grand Rapids population, by 1906 the total deposits of the bank equated to approximately $283,000. If you happen to be a local Conway or Witter, your lineage may root in Wisconsin Rapids banking history, as W.J. Conway and J.D. Witter both had their hands in the creation of this bank, and its many forms.
The third inception of the bank was built in 1921 and is still currently located at the southwest corner of 3rd Ave. and W. Grand Ave., now known as U.S. Bank.