The Bellingham National Bank was founded on January 3, 1905. After only seven years the bank was so successful, under the leadership of President Victor A. Roeder, that plans were made to construct a new bank building. The site they selected, where it presently stands, was formerly occupied by the Beck Theater reputed as being the best playhouse west of Chicago.
The construction of the new bank building began in 1912 with architect F. Stanley Piper, who had come to Bellingham from Britain in 1909. The building that Piper designed was molded from the popular utilitarian Commercial (or “Chicago”) style. While this style was relatively common in the East and Midwest, for Bellingham, it represented a striking difference from the round-arched, brick and sandstone Romanesque styles frequently built in the 1890’s.
The Bellingham National Bank Building is constructed of reinforced concrete. The exterior of the first floor is faced with smooth masonry, neatly contrasting with the light brick covering on the upper four floors. The building’s first floor is elaborately decorated with a round arched lobby entrance, and elaborate bronze bank windows. Two Doric columns support the entrance and centered in the above parapet is a carved eagle. The cornice of the building is trimmed with white masonry with a floral motif.
Bellingham National Bank occupied the first floor and the partial basement when the building opened on December 1, 1913. Originally, the Holly Street side of the first floor had four commercial locations and one behind the bank on the Cornwall side. Currently, Key Bank of Washington occupies the entire first floor, while the upper floor offices are leased to various professionals such as the State Attorney General.
Until the Bellingham Herald Building was built in 1926, the Bellingham National Bank Building was the largest and most modern building in Bellingham.
For more information see the Bellingham National Bank Building National Register of Historic Places Nomination.