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Old bank building to be remodled by engineer

by Linda Hiller

“Overcast skies notwithstanding, the new First National Bank of Nevada building in Minden was opened Saturday with a fanfare of ceremony seldom seen in Carson Valley.”

That was the lead of a January 23, 1969, article in The Record-Courier, but to look at the building at the corner of Esmeralda Avenue and 5th Street today, it is hard to imagine what the fuss was all about. The 31-year-old bank building is now empty and ordinary-looking.

But that is soon to change, if one business owner has his way. Rob Anderson, 39, owner of RO Anderson Engineering, has purchased the old FNB building and plans to renovate it so it once again may become a proud member of the downtown Minden business community.

“I like the direction the town of Minden is going, and the building is in a good location,” Anderson said from his office at 1624 10th St. “We need more space, and it’s a good size for us.”

– Modern facility. A bank building is often one of the most important structures in any developing community, and though Minden was well established in 1969, it was still a very important event to have a new, modern building erected in the town. The FNB building was described in the article as “one of the most modern banking facilities in the West.”

The Farmers Bank of Carson Valley opened in 1909 in what is now Nevada Gourmet Grocery and moved across Esmeralda Avenue nine years later to a larger building. It became the Minden branch of the First National Bank of Nevada in 1954.

By 1968, larger quarters were sought, and the new building was built and opened in 1969. In 1981, the bank changed its name to First Interstate Bank, and after that, the bank became Wells Fargo. In 1998, Wells Fargo opened a new building in Gardnerville. The Minden building has been empty since that time.

n Flashback. At the official open house/grand opening on Jan. 18, 1969, former state senator Fred Settelmeyer was invited to cut the ribbon, or in this case – the Carson Valley alternative – officially lifting a horseshoe to open a corral gate. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people turned out to tour the bank building, the R-C reported.

Reno architects Ferris and Erskine were on hand for the opening of the 6,500-square-foot building, and the drive-up banking windows were among the first of their kind in the Valley.

Across the street from the new bank site, the old bank building had a banner heralding the move.

“Farmers Bank of Carson Valley, dba First National Bank of Nevada,” the banner read.

“We welcome those of you gathered here today to celebrate the opening of the First National Bank of Nevada, a subsidiary of the Farmers Bank of Carson Valley,” an unseen voice from an open window in the old building said.

– Fast forward. After a long line of bankers, Anderson’s staff of 17, which includes engineers, surveyors and planners, will find a way to keep money going through the business.

Will there be drive-up windows for engineering services?

“No, they will be gone,” he said. “We will make some exterior modifications and some interior changes to accommodate our engineering business.”

The original architects are no longer in business in Reno, Anderson said, but another Reno architect, Larry Henry of Architecture FX, is doing the architectural design, and Building Concepts of Gardnerville is doing the working drawings.

Anderson will be presenting plans to the county for a design review next week. Construction work on the building will be by Central Sierra Construction of Minden, Anderson said.

“We will be making substantial changes to the exterior architecture,” Anderson said. “I’m sure some people will think we didn’t go far enough and some people will think we did an excellent job.”

Anderson said it will take until August before his company will be able to move in and occupy the building. He said he already knows the building has been a good investment.

“I’ve already had somebody try to buy it from me,” he said.

Will they have a fanfare “unlike anything the Carson Valley has seen”?

“I’m certain when we occupy the building we’ll have an open house,” Anderson said. “But I’m not sure we’ll be able to attract the number of dignitaries and hundreds of people who came to the first open house.”