First National Bank of Glasgow

Glasgow merchants John and Robert Lewis did not face much competition when they opened a bank in a corner of their general store in 1891. Their bank was the only one within over two hundred miles. Despite an initial lack of experience, the Lewis brothers successfully steered the enterprise through economic shoals that doomed many other Montana banks: the panics of 1893 and 1907 and the agricultural depression of the 1920s. During Glasgow’s boom years, the bank thrived, moving first to a brick building in 1900 and then, amidst the homesteading boom, to this Beaux Arts business block. National banks, prohibited from investing in real estate other than their own buildings, often constructed banks with surplus office space. First National Bank of Glasgow was no exception. Designed by prominent St. Paul architects Charles Buechner and Henry Orth, this 1914 building housed retail stores and the bank on the first floor and business offices and an apartment for Robert Lewis on the second floor. The two-story building displays the symmetrical façade and exuberant ornamentation associated with the Beaux Arts style: entry porches with roofs supported by graceful Corinthian columns, second-floor balconies, elaborated pilasters, and decorative terra-cotta detailing. Built on the community’s busiest street, both for security to deter bank robbers and for customer convenience, the building helped mark Glasgow’s coming of age. Its architecture expressed a solidity, stability, and grandeur that symbolized safety and permanence, both for the bank and for the community itself.

Images

Map

110 5th Street South, Glasgow, Montana ~ Private