Mid-Century Mississippi: Fondren’s First National Bank

Today’s blast to the past is just a nice little Modernist bank building in my Fondren neighborhood that I’ve always admired. It’s one of the earliest drive-through banks I’ve documented, since I started noticing drive-through banks, prodded by Thomas Rosell and by the Mississippi Architect article “Greenville Motor Bank.” According to a historical marker (so it must be true) the first “auto bank offering drive-up window service” in the state was in Waynesboro, opening in 1962. Today’s bank opened in 1956, and I don’t know if there is any distinction between an “auto bank” like in Waynesboro, and this bank, which was a full-service bank with drive-through tellers.

The first floor has always been a bank (First National changed its name to Trustmark, maybe in the 1980s?), and the second floor became the office of architect J.T. Liddle, who designed a number of buildings in “downtown” Fondren, including Montgomery Hardware, the best hardware store in the state, in my humble opinion. At any rate, there were images of the building with this Clarion-Ledger article, but the microfilm copies were so terrible, I just put my own photos here. But I would like to know what the “gold colored aluminum panels” looked like–have they since been painted over with the black or are those black panels replacements? The awning over the main entrance is a later addition.

New Morgan Center Branch Bank To Be Constructed

First National To Occupy New Building; To Be Known as Old Canton Road Branch

In keeping with tremendous population growth and increased business activity in the north and northeast sections of Jackson, a new bank and office building will be built on the Old Canton Road near the intersection of Duling Avenue according to E.E. Morgan, developer of Morgan Center.

The ground floor of the new two-story building will be leased to First National Bank for a branch bank which will be named “Old Canton Road Branch,” and the second floor will be availale as office or other commercial space. At the present time, the First National operates a branch immediately across the street in Morgan Center.

The first floor, covering 3,340 square feet, has been planned especially for First National and includes the very latest improvements in bank facility design. Every bank service will be available, including safe deposit boxes and night depository service as well as new type drive-up teller’s windows conveniently located in the rear of the building.

Ample parking space for bank customers and employees also will be provided. The building is modern in design and features a new kind of exterior construction using gold colored aluminum panels combined with windows trimmed in grey colored aluminum, creating a handsome effect. The building, designd by Architect Jay T. Liddle, is located on property that fronts 85 feet along the east side of Old Canton Road immediately across from Morgan Center.

According to J.T. Brown, chairman of the board of First National Bank, “The rapid growth in this section of Jackson, has created a need for increased banking service and we are pleased to announce our plans for such an expansion. Until our new quarters are completed later in the year, the present North Jackson Branch will continue to service its customers.”

Clarion-Ledger-Jackson Daily News
May 15, 1955

First National Fondren Northside Reporter 1-19-1956

Advertisement in Northside Reporter Jan. 19, 1956

 



Categories: Banks, Jackson, Modernism

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11 replies

  1. That Thomas Rosell is on to something :).

    The effect of car culture on the built environment is interesting. Parking garages started my curiosity but those were not as interesting as the services industry that adapted for customers who preferred to conduct business by car. Eateries, convenience stores, utility offices, movie theaters, post offices, dry cleaners, liquor stores, mortuaries. There does not seem to be a business model that some entrepreneur hasn’t tried to tack a drive through onto at some point.

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  2. The excesses of car culture. I wonder why the Victorians never felt compelled to conduct every facet of life from their carriages.

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  3. I opened my first “grownup” bank account here, as a med student living in Lakeland Apartments. Hadn’t thought about this bank in a very, very long time. Thanks for the update.

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  4. A study of auto teller banking would be interesting, but I doubt that the first one would be in either Waynesboro (1962) or First National Fondren (1956). According to Carroll Brinson’s “The First Fifty”, Deposit Guaranty opened their Medical Center Branch (corner North State and Lorenz) on October 31, 1955. The north side of the building featured a saw-tooth shape that allowed 3 or 4 cars to pull up adjacent to the inside teller line positions, thus double using teller personnel in a time before the preponderance of auto teller traffic. The bank operated this way until perhaps the 1990s when a new satellited drive through facility was constructed to the west.

    Deposit Guaranty also opened an earlier Motor Bank Office on Amite St. in 1953.

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  5. Does anyone know when the Bank of Yazoo City Drive-in Teller was added? I know it is a remodel of an earlier structure, but the Drive-In Teller looks to be late 1940’s?

    Bank of Yazoo City, MS

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  6. First National (later Trustmark) was the Jackson State National Bank from 1914-1949 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trustmark). N.W. Overstreet plans for the remodeling of the bank’s downtown Jackson office (1946-1949) include 3 sheets titled “Jackson State National Bank Drive In Tellers Window”, 1948-1949,

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    • Do you know if the Teller’s Window construction ever carried out?

      I am curious as to the use of terms “Drive-In” “Drive-up” and “Drive-Through” in relation to banks and when and where they start coming into use.

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      • Having designed over 400 banking facilities I have run into these terms often. “Drive-in” is little used since it conflicted with the term forf an outdoor movie. “Drive-up” dealt with locations where a teller could serve you in your car but you may need to back out after service (remember that there were relatively few customers served in their cars then). The DGNB Fondren location was an example of these. The “Drive-through” or “Drive-Thru” has become the common term since it more adequately describes the attempt to move autos through as quickly as possible. About that time banks quit attempting to position tellers to serve inside customers and to turn around to serve the occasional drive-up. As traffic became heavier (now heavier than lobby traffic) additional lanes were added and required a satellite teller in a box (called a “doghouse teller”). Pneumatic tubes (long used in department stores) eliminated the remote tellers but retained the footprint of a drive-through. Multiple ATMs on remote lanes will change all of this in the near future.

        A short answer to your question is that they should be referred to a “Auto Tellers” instead of Drive-something.

        They began to appear post-WWII with the rise of automobiles, coming on strong in the early 1950s. Electronic banking may threaten them in the near future.

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  7. The “drive in tellers window” at the Jackson State National Bank was most likely built. In looking at how these innovations were described on plans, “drive in” was frequently used on the plans for 1950s-1960s banks in Mississippi and Alabama. I saw one or two in the 1970s. As Robert Parker Adams notes, the term “drive in” likely went out of favor. Later bank plans do not specify a “drive in” or “drive through”, perhaps not specified because this feature was no longer unusual.

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