401 SOUTH MAIN STREET LOS ANGELES CA 90013

History:

Farmers and Merchants National Bank is a historic lending institution in Downtown Los Angeles. As the regions first great indigenous bank it is known for both its architecture and its pivotal role in the economic development of early L.A.

The Farmers and Merchants National Bank was founded in 1871 by Isaias W. Hellman, who was a successful merchant, real estate speculator and banker, and also by John G. Downey, the seventh governor of Los Angeles. The bank was started with only an initial capital of $500,000 from 23 prominent Los Angeles businessmen, with the largest investments coming from both Hellman and Downey.

Isaias was a cautious lender, insisting that major borrowers have good moral character and provide good security. The bank's subsequent presidents continued Hellman's conservative practices and as a result, the bank survived every panic from 1873 through the Great Depression. However, as a single-branch Downtown bank it was eventually recognized that it was unlikely to grow. In 1956, it merged with Security First National Bank, which later became Security Pacific National Bank, and ultimately was acquired by Bank of America. Built in 1905, the bank was designed by the firm Moran and Wells. Designed in the Classical Revival style, the Farmers and Merchants National Bank remains one of Southern California's finest examples of the early "temples of finance", which were popular at the turn of the century. Its two-story façade, reminiscent of a Roman temple, is punctuated by an entrance framed with Corinthian columns topped by a large triangular pediment.

Much of the original banking room remains, including light fixtures, a central skylight, and the loggia with its Victorian-style railings. Operating as a bank until its closure in the late 1980s, the building now functions primarily as a special events and banquet facility and film location.

For inquiries about the Farmers and Merchants National Bank, please contact our leasing office at laloft@gilmoredev.com