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Downtown Grand Forks Walking Tour
Item 6 of 13
Originally home to the Scandinavian-American Bank, this 1915 structure was one of the largest in Grand Forks at the time. Over 2 decades later the building changed hands to the First National Bank and was still connected with that bank until 2000. Now it is home to Alerus Financial. During the 1997 Red River flood, this building was almost destroyed by the waters and subsequent fire. However, it was one of a handful not selected for demolition (and the only one in its block). From the outside is appears the same as it did when first constructed.

  • 1920s-1930s postcard of the bank
  • Bank building as of 206
  • 1997 photo of the intersection of 4th St and DeMers during the 1997 flood. The bank building can just been seen on the left background area. Courtesy of State Historical Society of North Dakota
  • 1942 postcard of the building

The First National Bank is a five story building that was built in 1914–15 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It was built for the Scandinavian-American Bank, but has been identified as the First National Bank building since 1929.

When it was founded, the Scandinavian-American Bank had its offices in the Metropolitan Opera House n Grand Forks. The new bank building was constructed in 1914–15 and occupied in 1915. When the bank later obtained a charter as a national bank, it took the name Northwestern National Bank. In 1929, it merged with the First National Bank, and the combined bank located in this building. First National Bank failed in 1933, during the Great Depression, but was replaced by a new First National Bank entity that later became Alerus Financial in 2000.

The building is located on a corner lot, approximately 90 by 100 ft in size, at the intersection of DeMers Avenue and North Fourth Street. It is considered an excellent example of the use of Classical Revival architecture in the context of a large commercial building. The two sides that face the street have two-part facades in which the lower two stories are fronted by rusticated ashlar piers built on top of polished granite blocks and the three upper stories are faced with red brick. The top of the building is decorated with a stone cornice.

The property was included in a 1981 study of the historical resources of downtown Grand Forks. It was damaged by flooding and fire in the 1997 Red River Flood; it is the only building on the block that was not demolished as a result of flooding and fire

  1. "Downtown Grand Forks After the Flood". Grand Forks Flood and Recovery. Alan Draves.
  2. "Downtown Grand Forks After Hell and High Water". Grand Forks Flood and Recovery. Alan Draves. 
  3.  C. Kudzia, Norene; Joe Roberts, Gary Richardson (September 1981). "North Dakota Cultural Resources Survey: First National Bank" (PDF).National Park Service. and Accompanying two photos, exterior, from 1981

  4. Norene Roberts; Joe Roberts (November 30, 1981). "National Register of Historic Places: Downtown Grand Forks MRA" (PDF). National Park Service.