First National Bank

April 5, 2010

Courtesy of the Pop Laval Foundation

Then: The First National Bank, photographed here in 1919, was built at the corner of Mariposa and I streets for a cost of $28,789 in 1889.

The late 1880s was a boom era in Fresno, especially for banks — the result of the newfound agricultural wealth in the Valley as this became one of the richest farming areas in the United States.

One of the most impressive financial institutions was the First National Bank, which was constructed in 1889 at the northeast corner of Mariposa and I (Broadway) streets.

In the Gothic-Romanesque style, it was an imposing three-story brick building with sandstone trim and granite Scotch pillars at the entrance. Large awnings, which extended over the sidewalks, provided protection from the elements. A massive turret crowned the top. It was constructed for $28,789.

This photograph by Claude “Pop” Laval was taken in 1919. The Bank of Italy, which later became Bank of America, bought First National in 1921. It was torn down in 1928 to make way for a parking lot. A modern multistory parking structure sits on the site today.

John Walker / The Fresno Bee

Now: A modern multistory parking structure at the northeast corner of Mariposa Way and Broadway Plaza.