The Wheeling Register, June 4, 1915
Tomorrow morning at 9 o'clock, the doors of the new home of the National Bank of West Virginia on the southwest corner of Main and Twelfth streets will be thrown open to the public and the business of the institution will again be conducted on the site that has been used for many years by the institution. The bank will occupy quarters that will be perfect from a banking standpoint. Everything will be so arranged that business can be handled easily and all efforts and conveniences offered to both the public and the employes of the institution.
The plans for the building and the banking room were designed and drawn by Architect Charles W. Bates and nothing was overlooked in furnishing the most modern and up-to-date banking institution in the country for the National Bank of West Virginia. The space on the first floor for the convenience of the public measures approximately 25 by 30 feet.
There will be two entrances to the banking room one from Twelfth and the other from Main street. Each entrance leads to a vestibule in which there are two large revolving doors. Through them entrance to the banking room is gained. After passing through the doors, one gets a perfect view of the magnificent room, and if looking for beauty in architecture and decoration would stand awe-stricken by the scene.
The floor of the banking room is approached from the vestibule by four steps, built of white marble, to correspond with the other work in the room. The floor is high above flood stages, being a full foot above the 1884 flood, consequently no damage can be expected from this source in the future. The floor is of marble blocks.
The lighting effect in the big room is perfect, much being provided. The officers of the bank, that is the cashiers, tellers, etc., together with the clerical department, are located on the west and south side of the room, being partitioned off from the public space by a semi-circular bronze grill, mahogany and marble partition. These departments are so arranged that there is a plenty of space for each set of individuals while working.
On the northern-most end of the semi-circular partitioned space will be found the office of the cashier. This is one of the beautiful departments, being separated from the other portions of the room by a white marble wall. Lending a richness to the general decorative scheme is the furniture, which is of mahogany.
Adjoining the cashier's department is the draft department, next to it the receiving teller's department, then the individual bookkeeping department, the paying teller, savings department, etc. In the rear of these is the general clerical department. Next to the savings department, and extending to the office department of the building, through a third entrance to the room, is a hall way, and on the opposite side of this is the public office of the vice president, in the rear of which is the private office of this official. The from office is open and very similar to that occupied by the cashier on the opposite side of the room, but the rear room is private in every sense of the word.
In the rear of the savings department are the safety deposit vaults, the money vaults, safety department, ladies room, private coupon booth and telephone booths. To the west side of the room in the rear of the clerical department, there is also a branch telephone exchange.
The room is rich in decorations, being done in russett and gold, this color scheme being carried out throughout with the exception of the marble partitions, wainscoting, columns and pilasters. The grill work is solid bronze, and lends richness to the general effect. The walls have been richly decorated with a covering representing burnt leather in large panels. On the floor will be found also, rich, soft Brussels rugs.
In the center of the room is a large white marble pillar. On the north and south of this are two marble check desks for the convenience of the public. Other check desks and tables are placed in convenience places in the room. Around the top of this pillar, on each side, are small clusters of electric lights, suspended from beautiful bronze brackets, done in old gold.
The lighting effect of the room perfect, as said before, an abundance of light being afforded either by day or night. During the day, plenty of light enters through the large windows, but in the night time a soft glow will be afforded from many electric lights in frosted globes. The usual lighting system is not used, there being an original scheme carried out.
Large beautiful chandeliers, suspended from chains, hold the largest number of lights in the room, there being four of these in the open space, each having 23 lights. There chandeliers are of solid bronze, being done in old gold. They are decorated with acanthus leaves, a beautiful design.
The mezzanine floor is located to the rear of the banking room, from which a general view of the big room is had. The floor space here is approximately 18 by 50 feet. This will be used for clerical work. It is closed in by an iron balustrade.
On the second floor, to the west, is the board of directors' room. It is 20 by 15 feet and is finished in white and gold. There is a private entrance to it from the bank and another from the office department of the building. [line obliterated by scratch] soundproof. Double soundproof doors are used. Two large stained glass windows look out toward the west.
The basement of the building is modern in every respect. In addition to the boiler rooms and rooms for machinery, vacuum cleaning department, etc. there is a dining room, costumers' room, kitchen, storeroom for use of the bank, ladies' rest room, private work room, storage vault and toilets.
The building outside of the bank contains 67 office rooms, all well lighted. All doors in the building open outward, leading to the halls, and everything is of mahogany finish. The building is constructed of re-enforced concrete and is thoroughly fireproof and waterproof. The outside, fronting on Twelfth and Main streets, is of terra cotta, plain and glazed, while on the west and south sides it is of faced brick. It sits upon a solid granite foundation.
The structure stands 144 feet and eight inches in height, with a frontage of 47 feet on Twelfth street and 70 feet on Main street. The lower portion is waterproof to the highest flood line. An abundance of light is provided for every room.
The beautiful new building, the home of the National Bank of West Virginia, on the southwest corner of Main and Twelfth streets, will be formally opened tomorrow, when the bank will conduct its affairs there. The building, other than the banking rooms on the first floor, was opened a few weeks ago, and many of the offices have been occupied, but the bank proper was not completed until within the past few days, and now, it is ready for the great amount of business that the bank does.
The banking room is said to be among the finest in this part of the country. Only the best of material was used in its construction, and in fact, the same may be said of the entire building. The building as a whole is entirely new to this part of the country, the architectural work being equaled but few of the larger cities only, the finish being the latest thing in the building line.
From afar, the building stands as a sentinel in the banking world. The beauty of the structure can be realized when seen from the opposite side of the river or from the top of main street hill, but although from these points, probably a prettier view is presented, yet the beauty of the structure can be realized clearly even from the street directly in front.
The institution that prides itself on the ownership of the building boasts a wonderful career in the banking and commercial world. Not only has it been a power to the city of Wheeling, but was instrumental in the banking and commercial affairs of West Virginia and the parent state of Virginia.
The bank has rounded out almost one hundred years of great service. To be correct, it will complete ninety-six years in business this month, having begun business in June, 1819, under a special act of the legislature or general assembly of the State of Virginia. For the first two years there was some difficulty in getting started, but after the start was actually made, success crowned every move made by the officers of the institution.
The bank did business as the North-Western Bank of Virginia until 1865, when it was "Nationalized," becoming a National bank. Prior to being "Nationalized," it did business in this city and had branches in Clarksburg, Morgantown, Wellsburg, Parkersburg, Beverly and Middlebourne.
The original home of the bank was on the site of the present home of George K. Wheat on North Main street. It remained there until in 1850, when it was moved to the building on the corner of Twelfth and Main streets, that was recently razed to make way for the present handsome structure. The bank was capitalized at $500,000.
Wheeling's banking history begins with the establishment of this institution. It was in 1817 that it was originally planned, but 1819 before business was being done, as mentioned before. This makes the actual life of the organization ninety-eight years. When the founding of the institution was begun, the following were appointed as commissioners to receive subscriptions to the stock:
|Archibald Woods||John White|
|George Knox||Noah Zane|
These men were well known during the early history of the Northwestern part of Virginia, and their names are even now familiar to the residents of this part of the state.
An article that will be of interest to the present general, concerning the establishment of the bank, is given below. It appeared in the Gazette, a newspaper here of the date of May 23, 1818, as an editorial, and is indicative of the interest shown at that time in the establishment of the institution in this part of the old state of Virginia. The editorial follows:
"We have the pleasure this week of informing the public that the stock of the Northwestern Bank of Virginia has all been subscribed by the inhabitants of this place and its vicinity; in consequence of which, our readers will perceive an advertisement in this day's paper, notifying the stockholders to meet at the office of the Ohio Company on the 27th of June next, for the purpose of electing officers to conduct the institution. It appears from the statement of the Commissioners that upwards of four thousand dollars more stock was taken than the minimum sum required by law."
Noah Zane was the first president of the institution and the first cashier was Thomas Woods. John List was the first clerk. He was the father of Daniel C. and Henry K. List of this city. Mr. List later became cashier of the bank and upon his death in 1846 was succeeded by Daniel Lamb. In 1863, Gibson Lamb, son of Daniel Lamb, became cashier, and was the active head of the institution when it became a National bank, being converted to the national system in 1863, as the National Bank of West Virginia at Wheeling.
One of the important points in the bank's history, is the fact that during the panic of 1837, this bank did not suspend payment on specie, and continued throughout that period in a sound condition, and continued so throughout the period of depression that followed.
The following advertisement that appeared in a copy of the Wheeling Directory in 1839, will be of interest to local people at this time:
"Northwestern Bank of Virginia--
225 Main Street
Capital $700,000 -- All Paid In.
Directors -- Archibald Woods, Thomas Paull, William B. Atterbury, Thomas Johnston, Daniel Cruger, R. C. Woods, Samuel Sprigg, William Paxton, John Bane.
Officers -- Archibald Woods, president; John List, cashier; Hiram D. Brown, bookkeeper; J. Steen Brone, teller; Daniel C. List, clerk; Discount days -- Thursdays. Bank opens at 9 o'clock, a.m., and closes at 2 o'clock p.m."
At the time that this advertisement appeared, the bank occupying a building, two stories high, at 225 Main street, upon the spot where now stands the residence of Mr. George K. Wheat. 909 Main street, which house was afterwards built and occupied by it.
In October, 1865, the doors of the institution were opened at the corner of Main and Twelfth streets, as the National Bank of West Virginia, succeeding to the building and business of the old Northwestern Bank which had moved to that location sometime before. At the same time the change was made, James W. Paxton was president and Gibson Lamb, secretary.
In 1870, Crispin Oglebay became president and John Wagner, cashier, which position he held for many years, John Maxwell was for several years following, and until his death in 1881, the president. Mr. Earl W. Oglebay, then succeeded to that office and is still connected with the bank in that position. Charles Brockunier was vice-president for a number of years, and during the eighties, Mr. Lawrence E. Sands was assistant cashier.
The bank, which has a capital stock of $500,000, and surplus of $200,000, has total resources of close to $4,000,000, and besides being the oldest banking institution in the state, is also one of the most solid in this part of the country.
In January, 1897, the National Bank of West Virginia and the Bank of Wheeling were consolidated. The Bank of Wheeling was founded in 1853 by Mr. C. D. Hubbard and Mr. D. C. List, as a private institution. It was afterwards incorporated under the state laws of 1890. When it was consolidated with the National Bank of West Virginia, Mr. W. B. Irvine, who was cashier of the Bank of Wheeling at the time, became vice-president of the former.
Since the consolidation of the two banks, the institution has had a wonderful and envious record in the banking world. It is one of the pillars of strength in this vicinity and has done much toward the building up of the Wheeling district in many ways.
With the entrance of the institution into its new home, the third span of his life will have begun, and it is expected that the future generations will be able to look with great praise and credit for the officials at some future date, to the wonderful growth and influence of this organization, showing their pride in having such an institution of the City of Wheeling and the State of West Virginia.
This was a bad decade for the proofreaders at the paper -- I have corrected numerous typos in the original article
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and partially funded by Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.