Banking has a long history here on the northwest corner of Wall St. and Riverside Avenue. Where Sterling Bank is today, once stood the Marble Bank, considered by some the most beautiful bank building west of the Mississippi River.
In 1892, Anthony McCue Cannon, a pioneer of Spokane, began construction for a new building for his bank, the Bank of Spokane Falls. Known for his extravagance in architecture, Cannon designed his building to emulate a Greek temple. The roof was done in the Corinthian order and lined with friezes. Cannon had specific types of black and blue colored slabs of marble imported from a specific quarry in Vermont. Black would be used for the door; blue for the facade and surrounding walls. At the construction site, the walls and pillars were custom cut and polished to the highest quality. A glass cupola was placed on top of the ceiling to allow ample light inside. Teller's booths and other fixtures were made of mahogany and other exotic woods. Nearing its completion, Cannon thought his bank would be a place where his clientele could do business in luxury and style.
He would be cruelly surprised. On June 5, 1893, just a few weeks before the planned move, the Bank of Spokane Falls failed. Because of the exorbitant costs of construction, Cannon had extended his credit far more than was prudent. The windows and doors of the Marble Bank Building were boarded up and remained empty for the rest of year. Cannon passed away two years later in 1895 unable to revive his bank. The Bank of Spokane Falls, Spokane's oldest bank when it began in 1879 would forever remain shut.
Over the course of 63 years, the building would change tenants three times. The Old National Bank owned by S.S. Glidden moved into the building the following year and stayed until 1907 when the Union Trust Company bought the building. That same year, the building underwent a massive renovation where the Union Trust kept to the late Cannon's idea of opulence and upscale banking. The most impressive of these projects was the installation of a new safe deposit vault. The 26-ton circular door and vestibule not only served as an imposing security feature but also as a tourist destination. The Trust Company ran ads in both the Spokesman-Review and Chronicle to invite the public to come and see. At the time of its implementation, it was the largest vault system west of Chicago.
Fidelity National Bank bought the building in 1917 and would be the building's last tenants. By the 1950's, downtown districts nationwide, including Spokane, began to modernize. New buildings would be taller and made with concrete, steel, and glass. The Marble Bank Building had also suffered years of neglect. Weathering darkened the once polished marble exterior to become grimy. Water crept into the walls and during the freeze and thaw cycles in the winter caused large cracks and chips to form.
By 1954, Fidelity National, then renamed to First National, vacated the premise and for Spokanites, the building became something of an eye-sore. The Marble Bank Building was demolished piece-by-piece in 1955.