First National Bank

First National Bank, 1880s.

In January 1878, a group of businessmen gathered in the Headquarters Hotel in downtown Fargo to hammer out the Articles of Association for the first public banking facility in North Dakota, the First National Bank. The bank opened for business in March 1878 in a small one story 12 x 16 foot wood frame building located near the southwest corner of Front Street (Main Avenue) and Broadway. The first bank administrators were Ezra B. Eddy, president; Newton Hubbard, vice-president; with E. C. Eddy, Evan Tyler, H. C. Stevens and Samuel Roberts on the board of directors. The bank opened with resources totaling $75,154.47, and capital and surplus of $63,291.18.

In 1879 the bank moved to a new two story brick building at the same location. The bank remained in this building until they moved to new quarters on the southeast corner of Broadway and N.P. Avenue in June 1904. By this time the bank could claim nearly $2,000,000 in resources. In 1906, the First National Bank took over the Red River Valley National Bank. In the 1920s when many banks were closing due to the agricultural depression, the First National Bank of Fargo remained strong. The bank acquired the lot just south of their building and in 1926 constructed a new six story building designed by the architectural firms Toltz, King & Day of St. Paul, Minnesota, and W. F. Kurke of Fargo. The new building cost nearly $300,000.

On January 1, 1928, the bank changed its name to the First National Bank and Trust Company of Fargo. In January of 1929, the bank became a charter member of the Northwest Bancorporation (BANCO). Some changes took place to the bank building in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1953 the bank installed a prominent landmark weather sign that signaled rising and falling temperatures, as well as other weather conditions. Between 1959 and 1962, the bank underwent a facelift and remodeling that included purchase of neighboring property and a drive-in service bay.
In 1981, the bank built a branch facility on the west side of town, located at 2501 13th Avenue South. In 1981-1982, the bank built a new four story building at the southwest corner of Main Avenue and 4th Street South. Not long after that the bank was bought out by Norwest Bank, and Norwest was in turn bought out by Wells Fargo Bank in 1998.

First National Bank, 1906.

First National Bank after 1926.
Postcard of First National Bank.

First National Bank of Fargo, 1878-1978 : a century of service to the community
Polk’s Fargo and Moorhead City Directories. St. Paul, MN: R.L. Polk and Company.
"First National Bank of Fargo opens bids on new Main Avenue Building Sept. 23" Howard Binford’s Guide. Moorhead: Howard Binford, Vol. 13, No. 3 (September 1980), p. 33.