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Ladd & Tilton Bank, 1868
Ladd & Tilton Bank, 1868 Ladd & Tilton Bank ruins Ladd & Tilton Bank 1954
Ladd & Tilton Bank

Built 1868, Demolished 1954
First Ave & Stark Street

Architect: John Nestor

The Ladd & Tilton Bank Building was celebrated as Portland’s finest commercial building, when bank President William S. Ladd built it in 1868. Architect John Nestor, who had come from the east in 1864, patterned it after Venice’s 16th century Library Vecchia, painting the elaborate two-story cast iron façade to imitate white marble. The corner entry was embellished with a balcony, supported by carved lion’s heads. Carved figures of Mercury and Neptune stood at the corner roof line alongside an arched opening; cast iron finials accented the entire roof line. The interior was no less lavish, with frescoed walls and Port Orford cedar woodwork. Cast iron was also used for interior columns for the 17’ ceiling.

William Ladd and Charles Tilton, childhood friends from New England, began their partnership in a mercantile business in 1853, incorporating their new bank in 1859. Tilton spent much time in San Francisco where he had other business interests, and Ladd was president and active partner. Their new bank building reflected the spirit of Portland’s prosperity and development as a full-fledged city, including telegraph service to the east through San Francisco. The new Oregon Iron Company, of which Ladd was president, was the ideal supplier of the locally produced cast iron, and Ladd is credited as the single largest contributor to Portland’s cast iron architecture. As a primary supporter of the Portland Library Association, Ladd generously provided free space in the bank building for the library until it moved to its own building in 1893.

In 1954, the once-lauded Ladd & Tilton Bank building was demolished. The cast iron façade was salvaged by Portland preservationist Eric Ladd. Elements of the building were later incorporated into Salem’s rebuilt Ladd & Bush Bank. It remains the largest cast iron building on the West Coast.

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