At Seven Stories (or Ten) (or Eleven), It Was High Finance

Captain Martin Bottom Loyd founded First National Bank of Fort Worth in 1877 on Houston Street at West 2nd Street.

first nat 77 and 85The bank was listed in the 1877 city directory. (Vice president David Chapman Bennett’s house survives on Samuels Avenue.) And an 1885 Sanborn map shows that the three-story bank building (a skyscraper for its day) also housed Fort Worth’s first telephone exchange on the third floor.

This photo of 1881 shows the bank building’s Mansard roof. The women sitting in the third-floor windows may have been “hello girls,” as operators were called. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)

first national previousFirst National’s second home was built in 1901 on Houston Street at West 7th Street. (Image from Greater Fort Worth, 1907.)

first national to build 11-15-08 teleOn November 15, 1908 the Telegram announced that First National Bank would build a third home on the site of the second. The new building would be a seven stories tall. Architects were Sanguinet and Staats.

first national sketch 3-7-9 stBut on March 7, 1909 the Star-Telegram announced that the building would be a vertiginous ten stories—the tallest building in Fort Worth. A pure-dee skyscraper!

first national daggett 6-19-09 teleThe steel frame allowed the new bank building to reach for the sky. The building went up quickly. The old bank building had not been torn down until late February. But on June 19 the Star-Telegram printed a photo of the completed steel frame. For contrast, floating beside the frame was a small photo of E. B. Daggett, son of early civic leader Ephraim Merrell Daggett and father of Jeff Daggett. The caption says that in 1857 E. B. Daggett at age nineteen helped build the first brick building in Fort Worth, for which work he was paid $2.50 a day and spent it all on “ginger cake and soda pop.”

first national pebbles 9-29-9 stOn September 29, 1909 the Star-Telegram reported that a drunk had climbed to the top of the “skyscraper” and dropped pebbles onto passersby below. Note that now the building is described as eleven stories tall.

first national list 2-14-10 stOn February 14, 1910 the Star-Telegram reported that a time capsule containing the names of bank employees had been placed in the masonry in the lobby of the new building. The capsule was to be opened and updated in fifty years.

first national moves in 2-16-10 stTwo days later, on February 16, 1910 the employees of First National Bank moved into the “magnificent new skyscraper.” In a few days a few tons of gold and silver would be moved to the new vault.

When bank founder Loyd died in 1912 his last words reportedly were about his bank’s new home: “Damn my soul, you’ll never fill that building.”

first national before

building first national with cardBut Loyd’s bank would not only “fill that building” but also in 1926 would double its size. The 1910 building was only fifty feet wide along Houston Street—the width of three columns of windows. Architect Wyatt Hedrick, a protégé of Sanguinet and Staats, designed an expansion that widened the front facade by three identical columns of windows.

The 1926 addition was built on the site of Phillips’ Egypt Theater. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)

First National Bank moved to a new building at 500 West 7th Street in 1961. In 2003 XTO Energy bought the 1910/1926 building and restored it. The building was renamed the “Bob Simpson Building” in honor of the XTO cofounder.

Some views of First National Bank:

look up simpson dentil

corner simpsonbuilding bob simpson

night simpson cornernight simpson 3night simpson frontnight simpson boblook up simpson verticallook up simpson grillelook up simpson detaillook up simpson capitalglass simpsonclocks first national

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6 Responses to At Seven Stories (or Ten) (or Eleven), It Was High Finance

  1. earl belcher says:

    Great story and pics, Mike. But you got to love the banksters. Lots of money to build this kind of stuff. Made off the backs of the working oppressed.

  2. Mellinda Timblin says:


    • hometown says:

      Had the building been named for the bank’s founder instead of the building’s restorer, it might have been called the “Bottom.”

  3. Jo Ann Nicholas says:

    Again………such stunning detail! Thanks.

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