Federal-American National Bank (and Interiors)

Constructed in the 1920s, this elegant Beaux-Arts style bank building exemplifies the architectural prowess of DC banks in the first decades of the 20th century.

Following the merger of two banks, this building operated as the headquarters for the new Federal-American National Bank. The bank building was designed by architect Alfred C. Bossom (1881-1965), in association with Washington’s leading Beaux-Arts practitioner, Jules Henri de Sibour (1872 -1938). Built between 1925 and 1926, the bank has an unusual plan, with the banking room on a raised main floor and retail space at street level (as illustarted by the shoe store that once operated on the lower level, below the bank). This architectural design is unique to DC bank buildings in the early 20th century, in that it utilized the second floor to separate internal financial business from the cacophonous noise of the street.

The building features a monumental Classical Revival façade in limestone, with large arched windows, engaged columns, sculptural embellishment, and a bronze vestibule. The banking room is designed in the Renaissance Revival style and has a marble entrance stair, mezzanine, elaborate polychrome coffered ceiling, chandeliers, ornamentation in classical motifs, and an innovative open counter design.

In October 1930, Federal-American merged with Merchants Bank and Trust, and operated four branches in the city — in addition to its central office. Despite this apparent success, the banking crisis of 1933 and the ensuing financial turmoil of the Great Depression rendered the bank insolvent. Thus, it did not receive a government license to resume operation. Part of this closure was due to the Federal-American building itself, an impressive and costly structure that constituted the majority of the bank’s financial reservoirs during a time of crisis. This type of investment is not easily liquidated, and was a major factor in the closure of banks, which precipitated the Great Depression. Federal-American was just one of many bank casualties across the nation.

The federal government established Hamilton National Bank out of seven local banks (including Federal-American) and the central office was operated out of this building. In 1954, Hamilton merged with the National Bank of Washington and retained residence at this stunning building on 14th Street NW. The building then sat vacant for a number of years, awaiting a new use.

In recent years, the original bank building has undergone an extensive restoration and renovation, and now operates as office, retail, and restaurant space. The building now includes a rooftop deck, fitness club, and terrace gardens. An 11-story office building facing G Street has also been added to the building’s rear elevation. Both the bank building’s exterior and interior are historically designated.

DC Inventory: July 18, 1990
National Register: December 29, 1994
Within Financial Historic District



615‑21 14th Street NW Washington DC 20005