The Bank of Bemidji opened its doors in a small white building on the south side of Third Street on November 17, 1897. The capital investment of $5,000.00 was equally divided between its two owners, R.E. Davis and William H. Taber. On that first day, there were five depositors opening checking accounts in the bank, totaling $910.00, as well as 18 loans totaling $1,088.83.
By 1914, the bank had outgrown its quarters, and a new brick building was constructed at the same location. During World War I, the bank’s total assets finally reached the one-million-dollar mark. The bank continued to grow slowly, hindered by the depression during the 1930s.
In 1931, the Bank of Bemidji was purchased by Andrew and Charles Warfield and renamed First National Bank Bemidji. Just before World War II, the bank’s total assets reached the two-million-dollar mark.
In 1945, Nick and Rudy Welle, along with Elgin Phillips and Les Hoganson, acquired the bank from the Warfields. By 1945, assets had passed the five-million-dollar mark. The bank was completely remodeled in 1948. The next 10 years showed continued growth of the bank and the Bemidji area.
By 1963, total assets had passed the seven-million-dollar mark, and the building on Third Street was too small to accommodate the bank’s continued growth. Construction began for a new facility on the corner of Fifth Street and Minnesota Avenue and was completed in 1964. It had seven inside teller windows, two drive-up windows, large office areas and a customer parking lot. In 1978, total assets reached $55 million. First National Bank Bemidji built a detached facility on Paul Bunyan Dr NW in 1978 and started an expansion project of the main office that was completed in June 1979. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were introduced to Bemidji in 1983 by First National Bank Bemidji. The 1st Teller 24 ATMs were located at our Main Office, FNBB North and the Bemidji State University Student Union.
By 1986, total assets were more than $135 million. Plans were underway for another expansion project at the main bank facility, which included moving the drive-up lanes to a new facility across the street. First National Bank Downtown Express opened in December 1986.
In 1991, First National Bank North was remodeled to provide an expanded teller line, larger lobby, more drive-up lanes and a drive-up ATM. The expansion helped First National Bank Bemidji better serve the growing community of Bemidji.
First National Bank South opened its doors in May, 2000. Located beside Lueken's Village Foods South, it provides complete financial services and allows customers to shop and do their banking in one stop. Our inside and outside ATMs provide 24 hour banking service for our customers. The south location provides convenience for the businesses and other consumers who reside in the south areas of Bemidji.
In 2008, First National Bank Bemidji built a new office and relocated the main office and FNBB North to 1600 Paul Bunyan Drive NW.The office has two drive up ATMs and an expanded drive-up area. The new office offers ample room to host seminars and celebrate milestones. We have enjoyed hosting events as diverse as 55 Connection Tea Parties, performances by the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, and our annual Young Investor Picnic.
First National Bank Bemidji has grown to over $670 million in assets. With a strong capital position of over $90 million in equity, the bank is highly rated for safety and soundess.