The magnificent seven-story home of Gastonia's First National Bank opened for business, accompanied by great fanfare, on July 28, 1917. It operated as the headquarters of FNB and its Great Depression-produced successor, the National Bank of Commerce, until the latter's relocation to the 100th block of West Franklin Avenue at South Marietta Street in 1956. (See the Journal page for that story.)
In the late 1940's, the bank expanded by building a nondescript addition on its west side, where a walkway between Main Avenue and the Southern Railway station had existed since the building's construction. The limestone-faced box housed the loan and bookkeeping departments. When the bank moved, that incongruous appendage became just another commercial storefront. By the late 1990's, the skyscraper's final tenant had moved, and the structure stood gaunt and forlorn, mocking hopes of an Uptown rebirth.
With a new century came new dreams. The Lawyer's Building (as it has been known for more than sixty years) is coming back to life. Current, enlightened ownership envisions the landmark as a keystone to the vibrant, bustling Uptown/Downtown of the future.
Recently the 1940's addition was removed, revealing bygone splendors for the first time to those of the Post World War II Baby Boom Generation and younger. To stand below the previously hidden boardroom windows and gaze upward to the sky gives one the feeling of being in a great cathedral. The First National Bank Building's story is told in the following picture albums.