HISTORY OF FIRST NATIONAL BANK BUILDING
original building was designed by H.M. Miller, an architect in Roanoke who
is responsible for many of the large buildings in Southwest Virginia. It was
placed on National Register of Historic Places in 2002 as part of the
commercial historic district in downtown Galax.
The bank housed other offices, including Sen. S. Floyd Landreth’s law
office. Landreth also served as the bank president. The lettering on the
translucent glass door of his law office on the second floor has been
In the 1950s, Intermountain Telephone Company had offices there, and the
Virginia State Police was headquartered on the second floor during the
The basement housed a barbershop for African-Americans.
In 1961, First National Bank underwent massive renovations. Additional walls
were created, the wooden windows were removed and replaced, and 150 safety
deposit boxes were added to the bank’s vault. The original white, green and
pink marble tile in the lobby was covered with white and pink tile. Sadly,
the tile couldn’t be saved In the 2009 renovation because the newer tile
from the 1961 renovation was glued to the original marble tiles.
The first floor was made of solid concrete, and the original plaster and
moldings were maintained in the 2009 renovation.
In 1961, the front door was inset 10 feet, which created a side door
exterior entrance to the top level offices, and a security gate was added to
The vault in the lobby contains a cannonball safe, which is considered
burglar proof. These safes generally weigh between 3,500-7,000 pounds and
contain a triple-clock lock system; they cost $10,000-$500,000. The size and
cost of the Galax safe is unknown. Because of the time lock, no one could
get into the safe until the time expired. Even today, the safe is still
unable to be unlocked. When the bank obtained the cannonball safe, it
couldn’t be moved into the bank for several days, so it sat outside the bank
with money in it. Today the safe still sits inside of the vault.
Plans are for the vault to be used as a shop to sell art and crafts, as well
as Galax memorabilia and souvenirs.
Most historic elements, including its handcrafted moldings, were preserved
in the 2009 renovations. Renovations included replacing the roof,
implementing a modern heating and cooling system and installing a new
The Gazette, Galax, Virginia, January 22-24, 2010, pp2A, 2B.