VICKSBURG FACTS: The one-time home of Mississippi’s tallest building

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 21, 2023

By Vera Ann Fedell | The Vicksburg Post

Did you know Vicksburg was once home to the tallest building in Mississippi?

The First National Bank building in Vicksburg was the first skyscraper in the city and was also the tallest building in Mississippi when it was constructed in 1907. Due to Vicksburg growing financially and being home to influential individuals in the First National Bank firm, the city was granted the opportunity to have a new building for the First National Bank.

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“These gentlemen are widely known throughout the state and they have probably done more to advance the commercial and industrial welfare of Vicksburg than any other man in the city and it is to their earnest efforts that the First National Bank has reached its pinnacle of success in the financial world,” according to The Monday Morning News June 17, 1907, edition. 

Another example is, “Upon their record depends on the city’s reputation for solidity and permanence of prosperity, and there is no more accurate measure than the volume of business transacted through them,” according to The Vicksburg American June 1, 1907, edition. 

A committee was established for the building. F.J. McGraw was hired as the contractor and W.W. Knowles was hired as the architect. Construction began in December 1905 after the designs had been approved.

“From the latter part of December of 1905, when Mr. McGraw first began to send down nearly 1,600 cypress piles upon which to place the big building…” according to  The Vicksburg American June 1, 1907, edition. 

The new building was built on the southeast corner of Washington and Clay Streets. It was designed to be eight stories high with more than 200 rooms and in the style of modern French Renaissance.

“The general floor plans have been very carefully developed by the architect in consultation with the committee, and each floor and office has been studied to meet the most exacting tenants and all-up-to-date requirements,” according to The Vicksburg American.

The First National Bank building welcomes its visitors with a loggia, which is a lobby with multiple entrances. It was reported to be one of the finest features in the building and was constructed from artificial Caen stone and marble, tile floor and coffered barrel vault ceiling.

The building also housed different types of businesses and individuals.

“On the first or ground floor are arranged the stores, bank and entrances to the building. All the floors above are divided into different size offices for rental, the second floor containing the largest and most desirable. The basement has stores, store rooms and equipment,” according to The Vicksburg American. 

Some of these businesses in the First National Bank included law firms, a drug store, a restaurant and a U.S. Engineer’s office. 

The building was completed on June 1907 and in July the First National Bank and the Citizens Savings and Trust Company moved into their new quarters in the First National Bank building according to The Vicksburg Herald July 16, 1907. During this move, many depositors called to send their regards and had souvenirs such as flower bouquets. By the end of July, the new building was ready for its many customers.