Provo’s First Bank was Late in Coming but Didn’t Last Long.
Because of cheap land, small farms and a general scarcity of money, there was little need for banks in early Provo. When the city’s economy showed signs of rapid growth in the early 1880, Salt Lake City and local investors joined together and formed the First National Bank of Provo with a capital stick of $50,000.
Abraham O. Smoot served as its first president, and William H. Dusenberry became the cashier. The new bank opened April 3, 1882, in the county recorders office, where it did business for a year and a half. Late in 1883, the bank moved its operations into its nearly completed building on the northwest corner of University Avenue and Center Street.
The bank’s new, two-story, brick building sat on a full basement. Business offices occupied the top story, and the bank and a mercantile establishment opened on the street level. For a short period of time in 1883 and 1884, after the original Brigham Young Academy Building on Center Street burned, students met in the bank building’s second-floor offices.
The bank flourished during the boom period of the 1880s, but it was forced to close its doors during the nationwide depression if 1893. The bank went into the hands of a federal bank examiner. Depositors eventually received all of their money back after the Provo Commercial & Savings Bank bought the First National Bank of Provo.
Commercial Bank remodeled the building in 1900 and changed its outside appearance almost completely. The refurbished building sported a tower to match the one on the new Knight Building across the street to the east. Together, the two buildings made a welcoming gateway into downtown Provo. They still do.
The NW corner of University and Center:
First National Bank of Provo – 2 West Center
Businessmen A. O. Smoot organized the First National Bank of Provo in 1882 and constructed their first building on this site in 1884. In 1894 the Provo Commercial and Savings Bank took over First National. Reed Smoot had organized the new bank in 1890. Provo Commercial and Savings constructed this building in 1904. Like the Knight Block, the architect for this building was Richard C. Watkins. Watkins also designed College Hall and other commercial buildings on University and Center during the real estate boom in Provo at the turn of the century. The new bank resembles the Knight Block and is late Richardson Romanesque-Commercial. The ground level has been altered, eliminating a large arched window. Look especially for the capitals on the free standing and engaged columns. They have some of the finest hand carved masonry work in Provo. The carving, which is also Richardson Romanesque inspired, includes Gothic creatures and naturalistic designs such as leaves. The second level has remained essentially intact.