Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

  Taylor National Bank
Historical Marker
Taylor, Texas


Intersection of Second and Main Street
200 North Main Street
 
  Marker Text:

 A. O. Watson of Austin designed this red sandstone building for the Taylor National Bank, which was organized in 1888. Completed in 1894, it has also housed the law firm of Mantor and Briggs, an office of the Weather Bureau, and the Taylor Refining Company. The Romanesque and Renaissance Revival styling features detailing of limestone, granite, and pressed metal. The First-Taylor National Bank, the result of a 1930s merger, remained here until 1967. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1980



  Old Taylor National Bank

The old Taylor National Bank is located on a corner lot at the intersection of Second and Main Streets, Taylor, Texas. The three storied building is approximately fifty feet tall, and it is long and narrow in configuration (25' X 90'). The building style is a combination of Renaissance and Romanesque influences. The exterior walls of the ground floor are faced with rough-cut red sandstone which is applied in connecting arches along the west and south facades (the north and east facades join adjacent structures). The second and third stories are red brick with limestone and granite decorative detailing. The Renaissance influence is seen in the detailing of brick columns which are set out from the wall surface. These columns are crowned with plain limestone capitals at the second story, but the third floor columns exhibit a capital that shows Corinthian order in the use of the acanthus leaf motif, but the echinus resembles an Ionic volute.

The frieze is carved gray granite and the cornice is pressed metal. The entry is defined at the southwest corner of the structure by the tower-like detailing of the brick which extends all through. the three stories. At the ground floor the "tower" rests on two arches which are in turn supported by three gray granite columns that have rounded bases and Corinthian capitals carved from red sandstone. The entrance is set at an angle to the street corner and is set beneath still another arch. There are two tall narrow doors, each of which possesses a single beveled glass panel. A door at the southeast corner provides access to a stairwell serving the second floor.

Both second and third floors are completely separated from the ground floor. The windows are double-hung wood sash. The upper sashes of the ground floor windows are arched. In addition, a large arched opening accommodates the single window of the west facade. This window has two small sections of stained class.

The brick and stone coursing is running bond. The foundation (which forms a basement) is stone, and the walls are load-bearing masonry (4-5 bricks thick), the roof is flat and at one time a four-sided wooden cupola sat on the roof above the tower formed by the southwest corner of the structure.

Interior features include carved window and door trim, with rosette and bull's eve motifs. The interior doors are transformed. The ceilings are decorated with pressed metal panels and cornices. Gray marble dado is found on the first floor, which has the banking facility. The interior brick walls are plastered and painted, and beaded wooden dado finished the lower portions of the walls of the upper two floors (much of this woodwork has recently been removed). An open string stair with turned balusters is located in the hall of the second floor and provides access to the third floor.

The Ground floor has a ceiling height of approximately twenty feet. A small mezzanine is located at the eastern end of the structure. There are three vaults-two at ground level and one at the mezzanine level. The mezzanine level vault still contains the original safe deposit boxes.

The floors of the second and third stories are wood. The flooring at the ground level is currently covered with asphalt tile, but evidence exists that the original floor was composed of small hexagonally-shaped black and white ceramic tiles. Electrical wiring has been crudely installed at a later date.

For the most part, the exterior has been relatively unaltered. The original cupola has been removed, as has been a large clock which hung on the west entrance. Historic documentation exists for both of the removed features. Interior alterations are minor in nature--a few partition walls have been added on the second floor.

The old Taylor National Bank is the single most important feature of Taylor's original central business district. The imposing three story structure substantiates the late nineteenth century heyday of this agriculture-based community which once led the state in cotton production. The structure represents a fine example of an architectural style, part Renaissance and part Romanesque, which was very popular during the late Victorian period for important commercial and public buildings.

The Taylor National Bank was established in 1888 by C. H. Booth, Sr. Booth had been a director of the First National Bank of Taylor which was established five years earlier, but his desire for the new bank was that it should involve a wide range of stockholders and be a "people owned" bank. The bank purchased the lot at Main and Broad (later renamed Second)Streets in 1888 for $ 4800. However, the three-story structure of brick and stone was not begun until May, 1894. This structure was designed by a prominent Austin architect named A. O. Watson. Taylor began as a small railroad community which was created by the International and Great Northern Railroad in 1876. A fire in 1879 burned the entire downtown area, which was composed entirely of frame buildings at that time. By the 1880s, large numbers of Swedish, German, and Czechoslovakian settlers began moving into Taylor and the surrounding area. The vast majority of the immigrants were farmers. Therefore, as Taylor began to rebuild in the 1880s, the city took on a new character. Building was done in more permanent materials such as brick and stone, and businesses began to thrive as farming caught on in the area. For many years Taylor and Williamson County were leaders in cotton. production in the state. Taylor National Bank and the community prospered during this period. The second floor of the bank was used from 1894-1934 by the law firm of Mantor and Briggs. The third floor and roof here used by the United States Weather Bureau from 19011930. The Taylor Refining Company took over the third floor from 1930-1939 when nearby Thrall, Texas experienced a shortlived oil boom. The Depression of the 30s led to the merger of Taylor National Bank with First National Bank 1931.
The bank then became known as the First Taylor National Bank, an institution which conducts business today in a location at the opposite end of the same block where their earlier home was located.

The structure is significant at a local level because it substantiates the successful economic and social development of the community. It has many beautiful architectural features and it is an imposing landmark in the downtown area because of its height and color. Many people in Taylor today claim to be descendants of some of the original stockholders and officers of the bank--further proof that the local community was indeed involved in the ownership of the bank. Also, there are two beautiful Victorian homes still existing today that were built by members of the Booth family, the original founders of the Taylor National Bank. The Booths and their bank were an early and important factor in Taylor's historic heritage. BIBLIOGRAPHY Deed Records of Williamson County Vol. 46, p.243, Feb. 28, 1888. Mechanic's Leins Williamson County, Vol. 2, p. 378, May 25, 1894. Patterson, Helga. "Down Memory Lane", Taylor

Daily Press, Sept. 27, 1978. Interviews:
Miss Ruth Mantor, Mrs. Joe Hanna Forson, Mr. A. M. Ahlgreen, Taylor, Texas, 1979.

A special thanks to the Taylor Daily Press and Alma Lee Holman  for this slice of history PDF




more history

A History of the Taylor National Bank
Historical Narrative prepared by: Joan Cabaniss

 

  The Taylor National Bank building is located at the inter­section of Second Street (State Highway 79) and Main Street (State Highway 95) in Taylor, Texas. The town of Taylor, originally named Taylorsville, was established by the International and Great Northern Railroad to be a major city on its route between Rockdale and Austin. The Texas Land Company purchased the land from the railroad and began auctioning town lots in June, 1876. [1] The Taylor National Bank is sited on the southern portion of town lots 7, 8, and 9 of Block 10, Original Town of Taylor. The first of these lots, Lot 9, was purchased from the Texas Land Company by Isam P. Olive on June 6, 1876, for the sum of $260.00. [2] The land company then sold Lot 8 of Block 10 on July 24, 1876, to Joel A. Fowler. [3] L. M. Openheimer purchased the next adjoining lot, Lot 7, from the Texas Land Company in January, 1880. [4] Mr. Openheimer later acquired lots 8 and 9 and subsequently re-divided the tract so that the thirty-foot sides of the lots fronted onto Main Street and the longer sides (125 feet) ran parallel to Second (or Broad) Street. The Taylor National Bank purchased the southernmost third of the tract from Mr. Openheimer in February, 1888, for $4800.00. [5] The existing three-story struc­ture was designed by a prominent Austin architect, A. 0. Watson, and construction began sometime after May, 1894. [6]

 

 The Taylor National Bank is built in an architectural style that was popular for important commercial structures in the late Victorian period in Texas. This style is a combination of Renaissance and Romanesque elements. The upper two floors have fine brick de­tailing that is designed to give the appearance of columns. The columns are finished with limestone capitals--Doric order on the second floor and the more delicate Composite order at the third floor. There are bands of limestone that run horizontally around the building which create the effect of entablatures above the columns while also emphasizing the floor divisions. The entablature above the third floor columns is composed of carved gray granite with a "running dog" scroll design. The cornice is of pressed metal. The Romanesque influences are found at the ground level where there are two facades (west and south) of connecting arches creating "ribbon" windows--a feature of the Richardsonian Romanesque style.? Another feature of this style is the use of rusticated or rock-faced stone to provide extra visual weight to the base of the structure. Two arches at the southwest corner are set at right angles and rest on three polished gray granite columns with Corinthian capitals of red sandstone. These arches define the entry, which is set at an angle to the intersection of Second and Main Streets.

 

 The first floor of the Taylor National Bank building is composed of a single, large room which served the banking facility. A mezzanine was added at a later date at the east end of the building to accommodate a bookkeeping department. There are three vaults--two on the ground floor and one on the mezzanine level. A stair­well at the southeast corner of the building provides access to the second floor. A second stair runs parallel to the south facade and leads to the third floor. The second floor is partitioned into six small offices and a long hall. The third floor has one very large room and two small offices. The interior walls are plastered and finished with marble dado on the ground floor and pine dado (now removed)8 on the second and third floors. Flues run inside the brick walls up to the roof, which is flat with a parapet wall around the perimeter. A four-sided wooden cupola originally was located on the roof above the southwest corner of the structure. The appearance of the cupola and a large, exterior stained-glass clock can be documented in historic photographs housed in a collection at the Taylor Public Library.

 

 The Taylor National Bank building was built to house Taylor's second bank. C. M. Booth, who had previously been an officer at the older First National Bank of Taylor, and was instrumental in estab­lishing the new bank as a "people-owned" bank--one that would have a large and diverse group of stockholders. The Taylor National Bank, established in 1888, had Mr. Booth as its senior vice-president. Mr. Booth later became president of the bank as did his son, Mendell Booth, some years later. C. M. Booth, who was born in Belmont County, Ohio in 1843, moved to Taylor from Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1878. The next year he moved his wife, Cecelia Mendel Booth, and their three children, Mendel, Grace, and Bess to the small ranching and farming community of Taylor. C. M. Booth and his partner, Curran Mendel, became successful ranchers in the area, and they are credited with the stringing of the first barbed-wire fencing in the area--some 60,000 acres of it. [9]

 

 The influences contributing to the design and construction of the building can be attributed to the site itself and the "style-consciousness" of a young and ambitious business community. The lot is rectangular and very narrow, and the principal facades front onto two of Taylor's major streets. Main Street is west of the structure and Second Street (south of the structure) is just one block north of the one-time hub of business activity in Taylor--the rail depot. The town originally began building around the depot, and development gradually moved northward. Stylistically speaking, the Taylor National Bank is an excellent example of the architectural influences prevailing at the end of the nineteenth century. The influence of H. H. Richardson, regarded as one of the three greatest American-born architects, [10] is seen in the use of rock-faced masonry, round-arched ribbon windows, and a simple but massive form. This style became known as Richardsonian Romanesque, and examples can be found in many major American cities. A somewhat later influence, the classicism revived by the French Ecole des Beaux Arts, is seen in the brick detailing of the second and third floors. Coupled columns are evidence of this style which became extremely popular following the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. [11]

 

 The Taylor National Bank building, in addition to housing the banking facility on the ground floor, provided offices for the law firm of Mantor and Briggs from 1894-1934.12 The third floor of the building was occupied by an office of the United States Weather Bureau from 1901-1930.13 The Taylor Refining Company took over the third floor from 1930-1939 when nearby Thrall, Texas, experienced a short-lived oil boom. 14In the early 1930s, the Great Depression with its financial hardships led to the merger of the Taylor National Bank with the First National Bank. The new bank was called First-Taylor National Bank, and it operated from the red sandstone and brick structure until 1967, when a new facility was built at the opposite end of the block. The older building was leased sporadically until 1979 when it was scheduled for demolition. The Taylor Conservation and Heritage Society, with financial backing from the Heritage Society of Austin, purchased the building in May, 1980. A buyer is being sought for the property who will be expected to rehabilitate the structure for office and limited retail uses. The building is in good structural condition, but it is suffering from considerable water damage due to roof deterioration at the northeast corner.

 

 The Taylor National Bank was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on May 23, 1980, as a site of local architectural significance.

 

 Taylor Nat. Bank footnotes PDF

 

 

DR. JOHN THREADGILL Bio

 

Dr. John Threadgill, Second Vice President of the First National Bank of Taylor, was born in Anson county, North Carolina, September 28,1847, a son of James and Eliza (Paul) Threadgill, who were born and reared there, the father being of English and the mother of Scotch extraction. The father was a speculator and was favorably known all over the Southwest. For over thirty years he was a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a good man and foremost in the conflicts of the times for the betterment of the condition of the masses. He took a broad view of his personal responsibility and his active years were all most earnestly given to the promo­tion of the cause of goodness under a high impulse that makes life great and often very effective. He died January 1, 1880, aged-sixty-five years. .

 

The mother of our subject belonged to a fine old Scotch family, the MeKinneys of North Carolina. She was a deeply pious wo­man and reflected the power and beauty of a Christian life in relation to her family, the church and the community. These parents had twelve children, all of whom lived to mature years, and ten are living at the pres­ent writing.

 

Our subject was educated In the common schools and studied medicine under the tutel­age of Dr. E. F. Ash, of Wadesborough, North Carolina, and attended a course of medical lectures in the Baltimore Medical College during the winter of 1867—'68. He then returned to North Carolina and began the practice of medicine in a country town, remaining there until the summer of 1870, when he came to Washington county, Texas, and practiced there until •May 1, 1875, then located near Circleville, in Williamson coun­ty, and practiced there until the town of Tay­lor started, and ever since that time has been located there.

 

His practice continued until 1880, when he entered into the real-estate business, continu­ing until 1890, when he went into the bank­ing business. He was elected to his present position in 1891. The other officers of the bank are: John R. Hoxie, President; J. P: Sturgis, Vice President; Dr. John Threadgill, Second Vice President; C. H. Welch, Cash­ier; F. L. Welch; Assistant Cashier. This bank has a capital paid in of $150,000, with a surplus of $25,000, and it does a general banking business.

 

Our subject owns much real estate in Tay­lor, Williamson and in other counties in the State. He was the first physician that practiced in the town, and owned the first drug store, which is now conducted by his brother, J. G. Threadgill. From August, 1877, to August, 1879, he conducted this store. He was also the first Notary in the town and erected the third dwelling, and since that time to the present has been very active in all of the enterprises for public improvement. Either as Mayor or as Alderman he has been connected with the city government ever since tile organization of the place, serving as Mayor from 1885 to 1889, when he refused the office longer.

 

The Doctor has been married three times, his third wife having been Miss Fannie Fal­well of Memphis, Tennessee. By his second marriage he had one daughter, lennie, and one by his third, Mary Fannie.

 

Mrs. Threadgill is a valued member of the Episcopal Church, believing in the beautiful tenets of that church. The Doctor is a blue lodge Mason, a member of. the I. 0. 0. F., in which he has held the chairs, and is also a member of the Knights of Pythias. He takes a great interest in local politics and is a strong supporter of the State administration. He is one of the prosperous and successful business men of the county, and his life fur­nishes a good example of what will and per­severance can accomplish when coupled with honesty and strict integrity.

 

 
 
 

                Texasescapes on Taylor National Bank Building

 
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