First National Bank Building DeLand

Early Photo from "A Century of West Volusia County"

Early Photo from “A Century of West Volusia County”

First National Bank Building

101-103 North Woodland Boulevard

DeLand, Florida

Built 1924, Still in use in 2014

In the early years of the 1920s (1923) Land Boom in DeLand the First National Bank quickly outgrew its antiquated office spaces.  At that time the Board of Directors commissioned Architect Wm. J. Carpenter AIA to design and oversee the construction of a new headquarters building for their DeLand operations. 

It was to be the tallest building in the city and have an ornate lobby designed for easy and rapid access by the daily increasing number of patrons.  It was also to have many office spaces for privacy as the wheelers and dealers transacted their feverish activities. Offices on the upper floors were to be occupied by various business firms, mostly related to the bank’s activities, such as surveyors, title companies, realtors, etc.

The archectural firm of Carpenter & Bent, under the leadership of Mr. Carpenter quickly designed a building that apparently successfully met all of these requirements.  DeLand Tour reports that “…, built in 1924 at a cost of $250,000. It was then the largest office building in Volusia County, containing the bank, 28 offices and five stores. On July 11, 1929, the bank opened for an hour and then closed permanently.” (It reopened October 24, 1929 as the Barnett National Bank of DeLand. Ginzl, p. 371

2002 photo WJC's office

2002 Photo.  The red arrow points to Mr. Carpenter’s office.

As one of the first tenants the architect himself had an office on the 5th floor, over looking the vast farms, orange groves and the undeveloped lands awaiting exploitation by the entrepreneurs of the day. 

In 2002 Mr. John M.  Schultheis, P.E. Project Engineer with CPH, took me on a tour of the building, starting in the Lobby, which is now occupied by CPH, as are the basement and the second floor balcony. The balcony was originally an officer area, from which the bankers could oversee all activity in the lobby.  Underneath this balcony is what is now known as “the cave”, a small area reaching almost all the way across this floor.  During the years of bank occupancy it was a secure area which held the safe deposit boxes.

 The main, and very secure vault, was in the basement, accessed only by stairs in the rear part of the first floor.  This basement also housed a couple of small storage areas, and the utilities.  The original door is still in place on the vault.  Where the ceiling has been left exposed the steel beams typical of his other commercial designs are still visible.

 Baumgartner & Bennett Co. renovated the building in 1985, tying it into the property to the north, and making the extensive changes required to bring it up to the current Building Code.  In addition to the basement vault, other outstanding features remaining are the grillwork on the front entryway, the high-ceiling of the lobby, and the exterior windows.  Prior to the renovation there were no openings on the north wall of the first floor, which originally abutted the McCrory Building.

The Fifth Floor (now the Sixth, since the new  owners designated the balcony as the Second Floor) still commands an impressive view of DeLand and the surrounding area.  Office cubicles were rearranged during the renovation and the area that was Mr. Carpenter/s office (Room 512) is now a conference room.  This entire floor is now occupied by Baumgartner & Bennett Co. a leading real estate business in Deland.  In a panoramic view from this floor one can see the Masonic Temple to the south, the Putnam Hotel to the west, the Wisconsin Avenue School to the northwest, and the Givens Building to the north, all designed by WJC during this period of his career.  When looking to the southeast, one can only speculate as to how it would look today had the magnificent Mediterranean Revival hotel designed by Mr. Carpenter for the DeLand Country Club been completed! 

This building is recognized as contributing to the DeLand Downtown Historic Area on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Statement of Significance from the Florida State Archives Site Survey No. 8VO 1650. 8/31/86 follows:

“This five-story masonry vernacular commercial building is located at 101 North Woodland Boulevard.  It has a stepped parapet flat roof with decorative brick panels in the parapet.  There is a horizontal recessed panel above and a cut stone string course below the fifth-story windows.  The fourth story has round arched windows with a crest in the arch and brick surrounds.  A double window rests in the front façade of the second story with a half round arch over the mullion.  The first story water table, which consists of a scored stucco façade, is set apart from the upper floors by a simple entablature that courses around the building.  Two fluted Doric columns flank a recessed front entrance.  The columns exhibit decoratively carved cresting on fluted pilasters.”

If you have additional information about this building that you think would be of interest to other readers please make your comments below.  Thank you.



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