First Trust Center
(Previously known as The Railroad and Bank Building - 176 E. 5th St.)
The sixteen-story Classical Revival structure designed by Charles S. Frost (who also built the Union Depot) was the largest building in the Twin Cities at the time it was built, from 1914-1916. There was no larger building for decades until the IDS building which wasn’t completed until 1973. The simple exterior masks the state of the art (at the time) interior that was to mark the extraordinary career of James J. Hill. Hill commissioned the building so he could have one space for his Great Northern and Northern Pacific railways as well as First National Bank. Hill implemented natural air conditioning in the building after experimenting with it in his home on Summit Avenue. There was also a 6 mile network of pneumatic tubes for enhanced internal communication. Sadly, Hill died on May 29, 1916 of an infection and was not able to use this large structure for very long.