The Union Bank Building
The Union Bank Building started construction in 1911, directly following the destruction of the Traders Building. The Traders Building was established in 1895 and was a prominent location for Downtown Clarksburg social life. The Union Bank Building was complete in 1913 and originally housed the Union National Bank and the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. Today the building is occupied by Chase Bank and has available commercial rental space.
Backstory and Context
The Traders Building was completed in September of 1895, and housed the Traders Hotel, a bank, eight stores, three lodges, an opera house, and several offices. However, the building was short lived as it burned down in 1911, just a little over fifteen years after the hotel opened its doors. Due to the wood frame structure of the building and gas lighting that was prone to fire, the building was easily flammable.
However, this was not Clarksburg’s first terrible fire. In 1851, the city had two separate fires that destroyed nearly all of Downtown. On May 10th, all of the buildings on the north side of Main Street from Third Street to Fourth Street burned, and on November 12th, most of the buildings on the south side of the street from Second Street to the courthouse were destroyed as well. The cause of these fires were arson committed by three young men belonging to prominent families in the community. They used balls of tow soaked in turpentine and tossed them onto the roofs of the buildings they destroyed. A Frenchman was charged with planning the fires solely on the fact that he was French. The Harrison County Court released this man several months later because they had no evidence to prove him guilty.
By 1911, Clarksburg had redeveloped and installed a fire department to prevent such disasters from reoccurring. Early in the evening on January 20th, 1911, the Clarksburg fire department responded to a fire on the north side of town. At 6:15 that evening, flames were discovered on the Third Street side of the Traders Building. Due to the fire department responding to the first fire, the fire at the Traders Building quickly engulfed the structure. Firefighters fought throughout the night to extinguish the flames, but were unsuccessful and the building burned to the ground.
The building was replaced by another structure that housed the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and the headquarters of the Union National Bank. The Union National Bank bought out the People’s and Traders Bank in 1905, and housed themselves in the Traders Building. After the Traders Building was destroyed, bank president, W. Brent Maxwell decided to construct another building in its place. The Union National Bank Building was completed in 1913 and is 11 stories tall.
NRHP Nomination Form. Accessed January 30, 2017. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/harrison/82004794.pdf.