First National Bank

Once at the center of Napa’s banking district, visitors can now dine inside the vault of what was once the First National Bank.

Chartered in 1904, First National Bank set up shop at the corner of First and Brown Streets, a corner which has since ceased to exist, becoming part of the Napa Town Square pedestrian mall. The bank’s leading founder was Harvey P. Goodman, son of George E. Goodman, Napa’s leading banker. The younger Goodman had been vice president at his father’s bank.

The original mission style home of the First National Bank was removed in 1916 in order to make way for the current structure; a classical revival style building composed of brick and terra cotta. Looking much like what we traditionally think of as a bank building, it will come as no surprise that the First National Bank Building has housed several banks through the years, interrupted only by a short stint as a clothing store.

First National Bank was bought out by Bank of America in 1938 which occupied the building through 1959 when the building was sold off in an effort to consolidate holdings. Shortly afterward the building was the short-lived home of Jenny Mateel’s Women’s Clothing. The building returned to the banking world with Silverado Savings and Loan taking over the space. Ten years later there was Napa Federal Saving and Loan, followed a decade later by San Francisco Savings and Loan.

After San Francisco Savings and Loan left in 1989, the building was left in limbo. Targeted for demolition in the City of Napa's redevelopment plans, it was preemptively purchased by Napa County Landmarks in 1994 with the intent of using the space as a community center available for event rentals. The organization was able to complete a seismic overhaul of the roof, but revenues from event rentals were not enough to justify its continued use as a community space.

Napa County Landmarks instead decided to lease the first floor of the building to restaurateur Baris Yildiz. After remodeling the interior to allow for kitchen and dining spaces, Ristorante Allegria opened, utilizing the high vaulted ceiling and much of the bank infrastructure to help enhance the dining room atmosphere. Napa County Landmarks began a renovation of the building’s exterior in 2014 in preparation for the building’s 100 year anniversary in 2016.

The First National Bank building suffered only cosmetic damage in 2014's South Napa Quake. Having just completed an exterior renovation on the building, Napa County Landmarks was forced to embark on another restoration project to repair the building in time for its 100 year birthday.

Images

First National Bank

First National Bank

The Classical Revival First National Bank just looks like a bank, and in fact that has been its function for the majority of the building's life. A series of financial institutions occupied the building through 1989. Image courtesy of Cinthia Garcia-Chavez. View File Details Page

First National Bank Detail

First National Bank Detail

Despite being the home of several banks during its lifetime, "First National Bank" has remained permanently engraved on the building's front stonework. The frieze above the door once featured an "S" signifying Silverado Savings & Loan. Today the frieze remains blank. Image courtesy of Cinthia Garcia-Chavez. View File Details Page

Napa Federal Savings & Loan

Napa Federal Savings & Loan

Though Silverado Saving & Loan had vacated the building their seal, a stylized "S," is still visible in this photo. Napa Federal Savings & Loan operated out of the First St. building through much of the 1970s. Their decal is visible on the windows on either side of the entrance. Image courtesy of Napa Community Redevelopment Agency. View File Details Page

1962 Silverado Savings & Loan Ad

1962 Silverado Savings & Loan Ad

During the 1960s the First National Bank Building was the home of Silverado Savings & Loan. In the photograph that accompanies this ad Silverado had placed its own sign over the engraved "First National Bank" sign. Image courtesy of the Napa County Library. View File Details Page

Dwight Murray Plaza Clocktower

Dwight Murray Plaza Clocktower

One time neighbor to the First National Bank building, the clocktower that once stood in Dwight Murray Plaza was controversial from the start. The clocktower was removed in 2001 due to lingering concerns about the clock's failure to keep time and the reigning opinion that it was unbelievably ugly. Image courtesy of Napa County Library. View File Details Page

Audio

Rebecca Yerger on the Building's Cartouche

Local historian Rebecca Yerger speaks about the the architectural details of the First National Bank. Audio courtesy of Rebecca Yerger. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

John Thill, “First National Bank,” Explore Napa, accessed June 28, 2017, http://explorenapa.org/items/show/7.

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