Editor's note: This is the 63rd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.
The first bank to open in the new town of Huntington was the Bank of Huntington. Chartered in July of 1875, it was housed in a small brick building on the north side of 3rd Avenue just east of 12th Street. Peter Cline Buffington, the first mayor of Huntington, was the bank's president. Shortly after it opened, on Sept. 6, 1875, the bank was the scene of a daring holdup. Local legend says the robbery was the work of famed outlaw Jesse James and his gang, but most historians doubt that claim. When Heritage Village opened in 1967, the historic bank building was moved there.
In 1884, a group of Huntington investors opened the town's second bank, the First National Bank of Huntington. The new bank was housed in a stone building erected at 926 3rd Ave, the current site of Pullman Square. The bank is shown here in a vintage postcard photograph taken during the 1913 flood. The two men standing in the doorway, looking at the flooded street, are unidentified.
The First National, it might be noted, was conveniently located next door to one of the city's most popular saloons, Ziegler & Behrend. A straw demijohn advertising the saloon can be seen at the right of the photo.
J.L. Caldwell was elected president of the new bank, a post he would hold until his death in 1923. A commanding figure in the early history of Hunting the Guyan Valley coal fields and the building of the Guyan Valley branch of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, which linked the coal fields with Huntington.
George F. Miller Jr. was elected executive vice president of the new bank, a role he would fill until his death in 1910. Like Caldwell, Miller was a prominent figure in the city's early business community.
The First National grew with the city and prospered. In 1912, it purchased a lot on the southwest corner of 4th Avenue and 10th Street and there erected a 12-story building that would become one of downtown Huntington's best-known landmarks. Today, the building provides a downtown presence for the First State Bank of Barboursville.