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Visiting the Former First National Bank Building in North East, Pennsylvania: Greek Revival Style, Dating From 1893

Updated on February 17, 2018
State flag of Pennsylvania
State flag of Pennsylvania | Source
Former First National Bank Building, Lake Street, North East, Pennsylvania
Former First National Bank Building, Lake Street, North East, Pennsylvania | Source

A striking, Greek Revival frontage

By the middle of the 19th century, the town of North East (1) in Pennsylvania's Erie County had become a quite prosperous manufacturing centre and a crossroads for travellers.

Yet although not a few of North East's buildings are included in the National Historic Register, only a small number date from before the 1880s. The reason for this?

The answer is in an event in 1884, which profoundly influenced the appearance of the town's urban landscape. A fire devastated the town, necessitating considerable rebuilding. The destruction encompassed two dozen businesses in addition to housing and a church building.

The rebuilding of North East got underway and by 1893 the town had a fine example of Greek Revival architecture in the shape of this branch of the First National Bank on Lake Street. Because of the town's location, it is clear that a sizeable bank building, indicating some degree of prosperity for its time, was not out of keeping for North East.

Features of the former First National Bank building include a prominent pediment, and four columns: two circular and two square. By the manner in which the building extends outwards from the square, outer columns, these superficially resemble pilasters; but it is soon clear that these are indeed weight-bearing columns.

Today the structure is still in business use, but the Bank itself has moved to other premises in the town.

A local, organized tourist trail includes the former First National Bank building, with its striking Greek Revival frontage, in its route (2).

February 17, 2018


(1) What is now North East was first settled in 1784 and incorporated in 1834 under its present name.

(2) See: The existence of this tourist trail is prompted by the presence of numerous other historic properties in North East, classified into an Historic District.

Former First National Bank Building, Lake Street, North East, Pennsylvania
Former First National Bank Building, Lake Street, North East, Pennsylvania | Source

Also worth seeing

In North East itself, other structures and features include: Gibson Park and war memorial, the Presbyterian Church on Main Street, Lake Shore Railway Museum, the McCord Memorial Library, Short's Hotel; and many others; while on the map the Keystone State is located substantially inland from both the Atlantic Seaboard and the Great Lakes, yet part of the Erie Lake Shore belongs to Pennsylvania, and beaches with bracing winds are located a relatively short distance from Downtown North East.

Presque Isle State Park and the Perry Monument (distance: c. 25 miles / 41 kilometres) are located on large, striking peninsular extending into Lake Erie. The Monument recalls Commodore Oliver H. Perry's naval leadership during the War of 1812.


How to get there: American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express fly to Erie International Airport (distance from North East: 21.9 miles / 37 kilometres) from Philadephia, Detroit and Chicago-O'Hare respectively; car rental is available at Erie International Airport. North East is situated close to the I-90. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map of Erie County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries
Map of Erie County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries | Source


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