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WELLS FARGO BANK (Formerly First Mechanics National Bank)

  • 1 W. STATE ST.
  • Trenton, NJ 08608
  • Artwork Creator: n/a
  • Hours: Mon-Fri, 08:30AM-05:00PM; Sat, 09:00AM-12:00PM; Sun, closed
  • Access: Open to public
  • Sponsor/Project: n/a
  • Project Date: circa. 1930

“Built on the former location of a tavern that served as the center for important political sessions before, during and after the American revolution, this 1930 era structure boasts American painter N.C. Wyeth’s interpretation of President George Washington’s visit to Trenton and relief portraits of Washington, Lafayette, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton on its main doors.

In the early days of Trenton, there stood on the southwest corner of King (now Warren) Street and Second (now State) Street—the present site of this bank—the handsome stone and stucco home of John Dagworthy, long classed as the largest and most handsome house in the community. It was erected in 1730, or thereabouts. It included an exceptionally large attic, which was in later years to be used for important public and semi-public meetings . . . On November 1, 1740, the property became the official residence of Lewis Morris, the royal governor of the Colony of New Jersey. Other changes placed the property in the hands of Samuel Henry, iron manufacturer, just before the American Revolution. Mr. Henry used it as a residence during the Revolution until 1780, when he removed to a farm in Nottingham. In April of that year the place was leased to Jacob G. Bergen, for tavern purposes. Bergen had already made himself a reputation in this business, having successfully catered in Princeton, first at the sign of ‘The College in Princeton’ and later at the sign of ‘The Confederation.’ Mine Host Bergen made some changes in the old house, better to suit his purposes, building an additional story, with a gable roof, and converting two of the main-floor rooms into one, so that it might be used for public assemblages. This apartment was long afterward known as the ‘long room,’—quite appropriately so, since it had a length of forty-three feet. In the basement a barroom was established. It was for this place that Bergen on May 17, 1780 announced in the New Jersey Gazette his hopes that his ‘endeavors to serve the Publick will be acceptable.’ At that time the house was known as the ‘Thirteen Stars.’ Later it became the ‘French Arms’ and finally the ‘City Tavern’ . . . Bergen's opening of his hostelry marked the commencement of a series of festivities which made it the social center of Trenton. The ‘long room’ served well not only for dances but also for affairs of state and national significance and for public business gatherings. This was continued on down to 1837 when the building was demolished to make room for the Mechanics Bank . . . In 1780 . . . the House of Assembly of the State of New Jersey met in the Thirteen Stars . . . The Legislature continued to meet in the building and finally in 1784 the Federal Congress gathered there, having previously left Philadelphia due to riotous outbreaks in the city. It was then that Trenton came near being made the permanent capital of the country . . . General Lafayette was entertained at the ancient hostelry, as were President and Mrs. Washington and other notables.” – A History of Trenton, Trenton Historical Society

“The monumental . . . building, originally the First Mechanics National Bank, is located at the corner of West State and South Warren Streets. A prime example of downtown’s continuous evolution, this structure is on the site of three generations of bank buildings. Originally this corner was the site of the French Arms Tavern . . . The taverns and inns offered food, drink, and fellowship, providing ideal meeting places. In 1784, at the French Arms Tavern at King and Second Streets, Congress met to deliberate naming Trenton the capital city of the nation. Trenton served only briefly as the presidential and cabinet seat for John Adams.” – Trenton Historical Society

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