One of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker is located at the Galveston Arts Center on 2127 Strand Street.
“The original First National Bank of Galveston Building, designed by P M. Comegys for T. H. McMahan, Esquire, was three-story and erected in 1867 of pressed brick from Baltimore. The Strand front and all the door and window surroundings were of iron, including the cornice. The bank’s vault was cast solid in Albany, New York, of chilled iron two inches thick. It was described at the time as being so massive that… “nothing short of a respectable earthquake could thunder it open.” The present two-story building at this site was built after a fire in 1877 destroyed the original building and all others on this block. This present building is a near replica of the original, but diminished by one-story. Indeed, reports say that the cast-iron hood moulds and Strand street front of the original were salvaged and re-used.”
“The First National Bank opened its doors on September 22, 1865. It was the first national bank in Texas operating under the National Bank Act of 1863 and the second chartered bank in the state. Throughout the latter part of the 19th century it was also the most substantial bank in the State of Texas operated under a federal charter.”
“The bank’s first office was the lower floor of the Hendley Building at the corner of 20th and Strand. The names of the officers throughout the bank’s history represented the highest echelons of Galveston’s business community, with such leaders serving as: Thomas H. McMahan, Henry Rosenberg, Julius Runge, George Ball, George Sealy, James Moreau Brown, Morris Lasker and Mrs. R. Waverly Smith, the first woman bank president in Galveston.”
“The First National Bank remained in continuous operation at this location until 1955, when it merged with the Hutchings-Sealy Bank to become the First Hutchings-Sealy National Bank. Following this merger, the old bank building stood largely vacant. In 1969, the Junior League of Galveston purchased and then restored the building to house the Centre on the Strand, whose purpose was to promote the cultural and educational environment of the community. This pilot project helped originate the ongoing preservation and restoration program for The Strand.”
“In 1972, the Galveston County Cultural Arts Council opened a gallery in the building along with the arts center classes and workshops to promote awareness of the arts in the county.”