The First National Bank of Oshkosh is the city’s oldest and largest bank. It began as a private bank under the name of Darling, Wright, Kellogg and Company in 1852. In 1857, it became the Bank of Oshkosh and in 1863 the First National Bank of Oshkosh. In 1876, a building was erected for the bank at what is now 404 North Main Street. The bank erected a new building in 1911, and in 1927 replaced that building with the current eight-story First National Bank building. Members of Oshkosh’s prominent families served on the Board of Directors including Philetus and Edgar P Sawyer, Gabriel Bouck, Robert McMillan, Moses Hooper, J Earl Morgan and Daniel C Buckstaff. First National grew to be the city’s largest bank in part because it affiliated with several smaller banks, acquiring the German National Bank, Oshkosh Savings and Trust, Commercial National Bank, and Security Bank and also became part of the First Wisconsin National Bank Corporation.
Today, the First National Bank at 404 North Main Street is one of the most monumental structures on Main Street and is an exceptionally intact post-World War I example of the Neoclassical Revival architectural style. Designed by the Hoggson Brothers, a firm with offices in New York and Chicago, the bank was built in 1926-1927. It is of steel, reinforced concrete and structural clay tile construction with smooth coursed ashlar veneer. A six-story tower rises from the center of the two-story main block. The main block is articulated by a series of two-story pilasters, a frieze enriched with disks and dentils and a cornice, surmounted by a paneled stone parapet. The entrance is at the base of the tower and is comprised of double-doors (not original) in a richly decorated surround. There is a hood with broken pediment above the doors. The whole is set within a round-arched opening flanked on either side by a tall round-arched window. As with the two-story portion of the building, the tower contains a decorative panel beneath each eighth story window. Above the windows is a frieze with medallions, surmounted by dentils, a cornice and a paneled parapet. This building is a contributing structure within the North Main Street Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.