National Register of Historic Places in Stanislaus County
The First National Bank Building is a two-story, yellow brick Romanesque building with a round clock tower at the corner where the two wings of the building come together. This handsome building retains its integrity today, even though the windows on the first floor have been changed.
Completed in 1909, the First National Bank stands today as a distinguished example of the many institutional buildings whose design was influenced by the Richardsonian landmarks of the late 19th century and by the classical buildings constructed after the Chicago World's Fair of 1893.
The year 1909 was a turning point in this part of the Central Valley with the organization of the Oakdale Irrigation District and the change in the type of farming and the crops that were grown. Reduced rainfall no longer caused serious problems. The growing of wheat on large amounts of land was replaced by more profitable crops of vegetables and fruits. The price of land went up dramatically, and the First National Bank provided the loans for the new smaller and more productive farms.
At the same time the First National Bank was made loans to the persons who started the canning industry with the founding of the Pacific Pea Packing Company which processed the crops grown on the new farms.
Ranching was and is a major occupation in the Oakdale area, and the First National Bank provided the loans until the ranchers could take their cattle to market.
The bank financed many of the commercial buildings in downtown Oakdale, including the construction of the post office and the Yosemite and Live Oaks Hotels.
Bank loans aided the development of farms along an eight-mile stretch of the Stanislaus River. Loans to immigrants, many of them Italian, resulted in the growing of almonds, berries, and other fruits and vegetables on this rich land allowing Oakdale to become a leader in truck farming.
Adapted from the NRHP nomination.