First National Bank & Trust Company

 

The First National Bank and Trust Company is located on 190 South Orange Avenue in Orlando, Florida. This building was built in late 1930 to signify to all residents that the Great Depression was finally ready to be lifted from the area.
 
The Great Depression of the 1930s hit Orlando harder then it hit most areas on the East Coast.  Most places in Florida were hit very hard, in fact. However, Orlando did survive better than some places primarily because of its strong economic roots in agriculture. Unfortunately, Central Florida was hit hard at the very beginning of the Depression and it took it quite a while to recover. In April of 1929, just a few months before the stock market crash, Orlando and the rest of Florida received its own devastating news. The Mediterranean fruit fly was discovered in a citrus grove near Orlando. State and federal inspectors began to look for more and discovered a massive infestation.

first national bank and trust company, south orange avenue

Officially 1,002 groves in South and Central Florida were infested. Almost 72 percent of all the commercial citrus trees in the state were doomed. Over the summer of 1929 and into the fall, tens of thousands of trees were cut down and burned. All infected trees were destroyed. The quarantine was finally lifted on November 30, 1930, over 19 months after the first Med fly was discovered.  The production of citrus during the winter of 1928/1929, the year prior to the infestation totaled 28 million boxes of fruit. After the quarantine was lifted the production was only 17 million boxes. And the 1929/1930 season was almost a total loss. The citrus catastrophe helped to ensure that nearly all banks in Central Florida would fail as did most other businesses.

After this terrible time in Orlando history, the First National Bank built a $300,000 bank building on South Orange Avenue. The new bank opened on March 24, 1930 and would become the oldest and longest running bank in the area. The First National Bank decided to move out of the building about 30 years later to expansion issue. Some time around the mid 1980ís, Valencia Community College began using the building as part of its downtown campus. The Valencia Community College Foundation has taken responsibility for preserving the history that comes along with this magnificent building for close to 30 years. This building is yet another of the beautiful pieces of architecture preserved throughout downtown Orlando!.