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Bank building comes down

During the spring of 1904, E.G. Holmes began construction of the First National Bank building on the northeast corner of Washington Avenue and Front Street in Detroit Lakes. Except for a period of six months during the mid 1920s, this bank was an important fixture in downtown Detroit Lakes until it closed in late November of 1991, when its banking business was moved to 211 West Holmes Street.

According to old newspapers researched by Roger Engstrom at the Becker County Historical Society, E.G. Holmes established the First National Bank in December of 1885. This was the first bank in Becker County. During the 1920s, banks began to fail. People that had deposited their money in some banks lost all of it. When too many people took too much of "their" money out of a bank, it would create a panic and other people would do the same thing. Soon there wasn't enough money in deposits at the bank, the board of directors would meet, and, when the meeting was over, they would close the bank.

"Bank Closes for Re-organization" was the headline in the Nov. 11, 1926, Detroit Lakes Tribune when it announced that First National Bank closed its doors on Monday, Nov. 8, 1926, because of depleted reserves.

Beginning in late February of 1927, a National Bank Examiner was in town investigating an application for a new bank headed up by P.S. Peterson of Grand Forks, N.D. By late April, word was received from the Comptroller at Washington approving the sale of the First National Bank building to P.S. Peterson for $36,000 in cash. On Monday, May 16, 1927, at 9 a.m., the Becker County National Bank opened for business in the building that formally housed the First National Bank, which had been closed for six months. Just before Christmas in 1947, Becker County National Bank completed an extensive remodeling and redecorating project to the entire building, which included Klein Pharmacy in the north half of the building as well as the offices on the second floor.

In mid-January an announcement was made that the name of the bank would change to First National Bank on April 1, 1948. F.J. Rogstad was the president of First National Bank in March of 1961, when an extensive remodeling project was completed. New exterior facing on the building, brick on the first floor and porcelain on the second floor, gave the building an entirely new look. Floor space more than doubled to 5,400 square feet. In the spring of 1966, First National Bank purchased the buildings on the north side of the bank to make way for a drive-up teller window and expanded parking for the bank. This resulted in the relocation of the Detroit Lakes Police Department, Ray Hale's Jewelry and Mattson's Barber Shop. Bud's Bar sold out.

About 1994, First National Bank became Norwest Bank. About 2000, they became Wells Fargo Bank.

Mac's Hardware moved to the First National Bank building in the spring of 1992, and during the next 15 years, several businesses and organizations used the second floor of what was known as the Mac's Building.

In the fall of 2007, Mac's moved to the Hedahls building. In mid-June this year, the old bank building was demolished and a Veterans Memorial Park will appear in its place along Highway 10, and at the corner of Washington Avenue and Front Street.