Brainerd's two downtown banks are among the oldest business institutions in the city, on having been founded in 1879 and the other in 1889.
The First National Bank was founded as the Bank of Brainerd by William A. Ferris and George W. Holland in 1879 in a small frame building on the southeast corner of Fifth and Front streets, the present location of the city-owned 502 building.
On Oct. 11, 1881 with the same two men as its heads and in the same location, it became the First National Bank, with a capital of $50,000.
Ten years later on Sept. 16, 1889, Charles N. Parker organized a state bank called the Northern Pacific State Bank with capital of $25,000. In 1906 it became the citizens State Bank of Brainerd with M. T. Dunn a president and Parker as vice president. In 1909 it moved from its location at Seventh and Front into new quarters in the Parker building. In 1927 it moved again to its present location and 1931 absorbed two other banks, the Commercial State Bank of Brainerd, established in 1921 and the Fort Ripley State Bank of Fort Ripley. succeeding Dunn as its president have been A. G. Trommald, R. J. Tinkelpaugh, C. R. Berge, Ray Kirkhorn and Marvin Cambell.
The First National Bank which began life on the corner of Fifth and Front Streets, did not stay at that location long. In 1882 work was begun on the brick structures known as the Hartley building on the corner of Sixth and Front Streets, and the bank moved into the first floor of the building. In 1916 the bank bought the building and remodeled it. The bank remained there until it moved to its new quarters on Sixth and Maple streets.
Presidents of the bank since Ferris have been his son-in-law, H. J. Spencer; Ferris' son, Allen F. Ferris; George D. LeBar who headed the institution for 33 years until 1936; C. W. Boteler and G. R. Tuttle.
Brainerd now has a third bank, The Brainerd National Bank occupies its own building in West Brainerd.
One other bank in Brainerd was the Security State Bank, which opened in 1908. It later became the Brainerd State Bank and built the building now occupied by the Citizens State Bank. The Brainerd State Bank failed in the hard times of 1924.
One other business used the name"bank," the Lumberman's Exchange Bank but it was really a real estate office which also made loans and cashed lumberjacks' checks. Not a chartered bank. It was operated from 1884 to 1890.