The neon sign atop the First National Bank Building.  Photo ©The First National Bank Building is a historic icon in Downtown St. Paul.  It is easily identifiable by the large neon 1st sign on the top of the building and its Art Deco styling.  The current building consists of 3 distinct, but connected, towers - an East tower, a West tower, and a North tower.

1st Neon Sign
The neon sign atop the First National Bank Building is 1936 neon technology.  The tower to which the 1st is attached is 100 feet tall.  The 1st is 50 feet tall and consists of red tubing on a white background.  The 1st was out of service from 1974-1984, due to the energy crisis, and was relit in 1984.  The sign can be seen from almost 75 miles away from the air at night and 20 miles away on a clear day.

East Tower
The East tower, originally known as Merchants Bank Building, was built in 1915 and opened in 1916.  The tower is 228 feet tall and rises 16 stories.  It was the tallest in St. Paul until it was overtaken by Wells Fargo Place.  The exterior of the building is a glazed brick with terra cotta ornamentation. 

Looking West from atop the First National Bank Building.  Photo © West Tower
Construction of the West tower began in 1930 and was completed in 1931.  Builders at the time had difficulty getting materials because the Empire State Building was being built at the same time.  The First National Bank Building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White in 1931 after Merchants National Bank was absorbed by First National Bank.  The West tower has 33 stories and is over 305,000 sq/ft.

North Tower
The North tower was built in 1971 and consists of 9 levels.  It contains office and lobby space and it is the main parking ramp for the building.

A vault inside the First National Bank Building.  Photo © Building Facts
As of 2012 there were over 2,000 people working in the First National Bank Building. Additionally, some 8,500 people pass through the building on an average work day.

121 restrooms

4 major vaults

25 elevators 7,916 sprinkler heads

8 escalators

30 cameras
3,992 telephones 3 parking levels (469 stalls)
1,792 windows 1 pistol range
7 conference rooms 3 generators
1 - 387 ton chiller 59 fan rooms
2 - 1000 ton chillers 8 electrical services

The First National Bank building is known for its history and lore.  Some have claimed that gangsters of the 1930s stored money there.  The building contains several very large vaults and at one time stored millions of dollars.  It is believed that the world's first skyway was built to connect the East and West tower. It is also one of the highest skyways, 17 stories high, and was built in 1931. In the bank basement is the remnants of a 96-foot long pistol range. The bank guards were required to practice twice a week to maintain a shooting efficiency 90 out of 100 bulls eyes.

First National Bank Building Photos

1950s First National Bank Building rendering. 
Photo ©
Blue prints of the First National Bank Building. 
Photo ©
1930s picture from inside the First National Bank Building. Photo ©


332 Minnesota Street.
St. Paul, MN
1915, 1931, 1790
Art Deco


Graham, Anderson, Probst & White