Bolivar Missouri First National Bank

Law Firm Douglas, Haun, and Heideman

Your next stop on this tour of Bolivar is the First National Bank. Located near the County Courthouse at 103 East Broadway, the building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2013 because, per their application, the “property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction.” The First National Bank was established in 1904 when the local Bank of Bolivar was reorganized and chartered as a national bank. The family of R.B. Viles was very involved in the running of the bank. Biles Sr. and his sons ran the bank from 1907-1932. Not only was the building the home of the national bank but the site of many local businesses. Thanks to the kindness of the Biles family, “local real estate agent F. W. Adams was an early and long-time first-floor tenant and smaller offices in the building housed everything from medical offices to the Bolivar Poultry Association.”

The architecture of the building is significant and represents a classic representation of 20th -century architecture. Not only is it one of the most intact historic commercial buildings of any type on the Bolivar square, the only intact historic bank building in Bolivar, and one of few local buildings of the 1900s to have been professionally designed. Kansas City architecture firm Wilder and Wight, later known as Wight and Wight, designed the building. The classical revival style is also reflected in the Jackson County Courthouse in and the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Viles Sr.’s choice of the lot on the northwest corner of the Bolivar square helped establish that area as a local financial center, especially with the arrival of a railroad track and booming transportation advancements.

The Great Depression impacted the bank severely, with a transfer of operations occurring to the Polk County Bank in the 1930s. The building itself was sold on the steps of the Polk County Courthouse by the wife of Viles Sr.’s son, who had died without a will. The bank’s records are now stored in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas, with over 30 boxes of documents and volumes. The building changed hands many times and became home to the Ozark Utility Company, a telephone exchange, several doctors’ offices, drug stores, ice cream parlors, and a billiards hall. The building became vacant in 2011 and was empty until 2021 when it was purchased by the local law firm Douglas, Haun, and Heideman. Taking advantage of several tax credits offered by the State of Missouri for restoring historic buildings, it is now restored to its former glory while also playing host to a thriving law firm, with well over $1 million invested in restoration costs. The building still lives up to an ad in the Bolivar newspaper in 1938 that read, “This building is considered to be one of the best in this locality.



103 E Broadway St, Bolivar, MO 65613 ~ Located across the street from the Polk County Courthouse Square on E. Broadway St., Located nearly three blocks up is the North Ward School or Polk County Museum on W. Locust St.