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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Greenville in Greenville County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

South Carolina's First National Bank

 
 
South Carolina's First National Bank Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott, March 22, 2009
1. South Carolina's First National Bank Marker
Inscription.
This historic site, home of South Carolina's first nationally charted bank in 1873, has served as the cornerstone of the spirit of community banking in Greenville ever since. Carolina First Bank is honored to uphold the banking heritage that puts South Carolina first.

 
Erected by Carolina First Bank.
 
Location. 34° 50.967′ N, 82° 23.983′ W. Marker is in Greenville, South Carolina, in Greenville County. Marker is at the intersection of West McBee Avenue and South Main Street, on the right when traveling south on West McBee Avenue. Click for map. Marker is located on the north facade of the Carolina First Bank building. Marker is at or near this postal address: 102 South Main Street, Greenville SC 29601, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named South Carolina's First National Bank (within shouting distance of this marker); Poinsett's Spring (within shouting distance of this marker); Joel Roberts Poinsett (within shouting distance of this marker); Vardry McBee (within shouting distance of this marker); The Old Record Building
South Carolina's First National<br>Bank Facade and Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott
2. South Carolina's First National
Bank Facade and Marker
(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Joel Roberts Poinsett (about 300 feet away); Stradley and Barr Dry Goods Store (about 300 feet away); Greenville County Courthouse / The Willie Earle Lynching Trial (about 400 feet away); Chamber of Commerce Building (about 400 feet away); Downtown Baptist Church (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Greenville.
 
Also see . . .  First National Bank. The First National Bank building is architecturally significant because it is Greenville’s only major Art Deco commercial structure. (Submitted on March 25, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. About the First National Bank
The First National Bank building is located at the corner of Main and McBee Streets. This art Deco two-and-a-half-story structure sheathed in sandstone with a polished black granite door frame and base was designed by Atlanta architect S.L. Trowbridge in 1938.

The flat-roofed building has a geometric-patterned cornice and a frieze
South Carolina's First National<br>Bank Entrance Detail Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott
3. South Carolina's First National
Bank Entrance Detail
band. Stylized sunburst aluminum grill work covers the transom and sidelights of the main entrance and its flanking windows. fluted aluminum pilasters topped with stylized aluminum eagles frame the main double doors leading into the bank. "First National Bank" is deeply carved across the central section of the upper facade, over a high relief eagle with out-stretched wings set within a sandstone niche immediately above the stylized granite keystone.

The 1938 building was enlarged in 1952 by extending the sandstone and polished granite facade around the adjacent 1917 building. The sympathetic and careful extension used the same building materials as the earlier one, duplicating the cornice and friezes with a side door enframed by black granite. A palmetto tree and the date 1952 were carved in the sandstone above the side door's stylized black granite keystone.

The 1938 banking hall had an alternating black and white marble tile floor, a gilded and carved plaster ceiling, shellacked walnut wainscoting, and elaborately carved four-foot wide pilasters on either side of the banking hall. Typically Art Deco stylized stepped wooden keystones were set above windows and tellers' counters. The 1952 interior expansion and renovation included duplicating the keystone motifs, adding an Art Deco-reminiscent clock to the McBee Avenue entrance, and painting the ceiling white
Art Deco Cornerstone Dated 1938 Photo, Click for full size
By Brian Scott
4. Art Deco Cornerstone Dated 1938
on both buildings. Aside from signage, no significant changes have been made in the building's exterior. the interior has been modified, but many significance interior features remain or have been restored.

Significance: The First National Bank building is architecturally significant because it is Greenville's only major Art Demo commercial structure. Constructed in 1938, it was designed by Atlanta architect Silas L. Trowbridge, and built by Morris & McKoy, contractors. It is also important for its association with the old National Bank of Greenville, chartered in 1872, and the first national bank charted in South Carolina.

Additional Information: The National Bank of Greenville was charted in March 1872, and was the city's only bank until 1887. In 1917 Fountain Fox Beattie, grandson of founder Hamlin Beattie and president of the bank, commissioned Trowbridge to design a new bank building at the corner of Main and McBee Streets. That building served the bank until 1938.

Although several Greenville banks closed or had to be reorganized during the depression, the first National Bank maintained its place as Greenville's leading financial institution. In 1937-1938, Beattie invested over $100,000 for the construction of a new building, also designed by Trowbridge. This new bank building utilized the existing foundation and walls of a nineteenth-century commercial building adjacent to the 1917 building. The earlier building was rented to a succession of tenants. When the 1938 building was expanded in the 1950s to include the 1917 bank, the Art Deco design of the 1938 building was extended to cover the exterior of the earlier building. (Source: National Register nomination form.)
    — Submitted July 1, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

 
Categories. Notable Buildings
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 977 times since then and 49 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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