Carl Seiler's Houston Downtown Postcard Page

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[First National Bank] This card shows First National Bank in downtown Houston, 1907. At that time, the seven story structure was Houston's tallest building. Today, of course, many buildings in downtown Houston are more than ten times that height. Notice the horse-drawn carriage and the trolley car rails.

First National Bank was the first steel-frame structure in Houston. The bank was founded in 1866 by B. A. Shepherd and T. M. Bagby, two names well-known to many Houstonians. The building opened in January 1905 and was fully occupied by mid-1905. In 1925, the bank was expanded from Main to Fannin. In 1956, First National Bank merged with another bank to become City National Bank and moved from the structure featured here. After that it was purchased by Lomas & Nettleton, mortgage bankers, who attached a large L&N sign to the outside. The bank is currently 8 stories tall, another story having been added after original construction.

The note on the message is written on the picture-side of the card because it would still be a short time before the postal regulations would allow split-back postcards for the message on the address side. It says, in part, "I think Houston will be a nice place to live in, more agreeable than Austin in most respects, including climate," a statement that I'm sure many Houstonians will certainly chuckle at.

This card is printed in Holland and published by Raphael Tuck & Sons (#5153).

This card of the Second National BankSecond
                                  National Bank GIF is notable, not only for what it shows of the bank building, but also the other things featured in the card. The Majestic Theater is on the same block as the Second National Bank. It is the short building between the bank and the Neil Esperson Building, on the next block. Also in this card is a small peek at the Hotel Bender, the brownish red building to the left. Finally, the printed text on the back would make anyone who lived in Texas in the 1980s laugh considering the savings & loan scandals of the 1980s:

Houston's great banking houses are guided by men of character and ability and are the outgrowth of sound and progressive policies. Their consistent growth speaks of the part they are taking in the development of the State's natural wealth.

The Second National Bank building was originally known as the Carter Building, and was built in 1910. Originally, it was seventeen stories tall. The current height is twenty-three stories, the additional stories added sometime in the 1920s, when the tennant was Lumberman's National Bank. After it was known as the Second National Bank, it became the South Coast Life Building, then the First National Life Building. Since the mid-1970s, it has been known by its current name, 806 Main Building.

Next, we'll look at some of Houston's first skyscrapers.

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