AKA: Capital National Bank Building, Central Area, Salem, OR

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - banks (buildings)

Designers: McNally and Knighton, Architects (firm); Payne, James L., AIA, Architect (firm); William Christmas Knighton (architect); Cornelius Sarsfield McNally (architect); James Lucas Payne (architect)

Dates: constructed 1880

3 stories

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129 Commercial Street NE
Central Area, Portland, OR 97301

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Building History

The original bank building dated from 1880, and its facade was modified in 1892-1893. The Capital National Bank remained in business in this location until the 1920s.

Raines Globe Travel Agency occupied the building's first floor c. 2010. The building's owner c. 2014 was the Pioneer Trust Company of Salem, located next door.


Canadian-born architect Cornelius Sarsfield McNally (b. 1858 in Quebec, Canada) and a partner, William C. Knighton provided a new facade in 1892-1893, based on work by H.H. Richardson (1838-1886) and particularly Frank Furness (1839-1912), a Philadelphia architect known for his complex and idiosyncratic Gothic and Romanesque designs. Richard Ellison Ritz stated of the bank: "[McNally's] best known design is the Capitol National Bank Building in Salem (1892-1893), a copy of the National Bank of the Republic in Philadelphia, designed by Frank Furness (1884)." (See Richard Ellison Ritz, Architects of Oregon, [Portland, OR: Lair Hill Publishing Company, 2002], p. 281.) Architectural historian Marion Dean Ross said of the Capital National Bank Building: "An unusual design inspired by the work of Frank Furness in Philadelphia." (See Marion Dean Ross, A Century of Architecture in Oregon 1859-1959, [Eugene: Women's Architectural League of the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, 1959.], p. 10.) The Salem Heritage Network indicated how the Salem building differed from that in Philadelphia: "...the 1880 Capitol National Bank was renovated in a Richardsonian Romanesque style to copy Philadelphia's First National Bank of the Republic. But our bank has local character: on the arch over one of the second story windows, there is the facsimile of the beaver dollar, a $10 gold piece minted in 1849 when Oregon was a territory. Another western element is the Utah red and Tenino gray sandstone used through much of the facade." (See "Salem in 1892," accessed 12/02/2014.) The McNally-Knighton facade was closely patterned on the Furness's earlier bank design. It had the same Richardsonian character and a three-bay composition, with a half-round stair tower (with candle-snuffer top) located almost centrally in the composition. Both buildings shared similar fenestration patterns, down to their half-arched entryways. The Salem building lacked some of the bold decorative flourishes and textural details typical of work by Furness. Erixson and Luker were the building contractors of this 1893 renovation.

Architect James L. Payne remodeled the facade again in 1950; the City of Salem indicated: "[The bank] was remodeled again in 1950 by Salem architec [sic] James L. Payne. Placing the modern front onto the building necessitated raising up the top stories, consisting of over 100 tons of stone." Alterations to the first floor facade added an unfortunate faux stone facing at this time.

PCAD id: 19482