First National Bank | 190 S Orange Ave

September 2023

In the heart of downtown Orlando stands a structure that is both a testament to the city’s history and a stunning example of architectural elegance–the First National Bank Building, located at 190 South Orange Avenue/1 West Church Street. Standing humbly among the giants of the city–next to the former Suntrust Center and just a quick stroll away from the Truist building–First National Bank holds its own as the focal point of these two Orlando landmarks.

Image: The First National Bank building

Source: Showcase.com

Designed by the architect Howard M. Reynolds, the First National Bank building boasts a distinctive blend of architectural styles. Constructed with steel and concrete, its exterior is adorned with a terra cotta skin and a solid granite base. The architectural style is often referred to as Egyptian Art Deco, a unique fusion of Art Deco’s geometric patterns and Egyptian motifs.

Image: The First National Bank building

Source: Orange-News.com

The bank began as the People’s National Bank, founded in 1911 by Seth Woodruff. It was renamed the First National Bank in 1920. In 1926, the First National Bank announced plans to construct a new building at the corner of Orange Avenue and Church Street. The bank opened its doors for business in 1930, when the world was grappling with the Great Depression. The bank faced challenges and briefly closed its doors early on in the decade before reopening in 1934.
In 1960, the bank relocated across the street and eventually into another iconic Orlando edifice long known as the SunTrust Center at 200 South Orange Avenue. In 1973, the bank was renamed the Sun First National Bank, signifying its association with the Sun Banks group. Over the years, the bank underwent mergers with several other banking corporations.

Image: The SunTrust Center

Source: The Brookdale Group

The historic building at 190 South Orange Avenue not only played a pivotal role in the financial landscape of Orlando but also served as a center for learning. Valencia College occupied its halls, housing offices and classrooms until 2014. Its diverse roles over the years reflect the adaptability and resilience that have come to define Orlando’s historic landmarks.

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