Editor’s note: This story is an update of one that ran in 2013. Read the original here.
The Public National Bank was founded by Joseph S. Marcus, a German-born clothing manufacturer on the Lower East Side, in 1908. By 1930, there were 30 branches in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. It was the one of the largest banks in the entire United States with a predominantly Jewish clientele.
In February of 1921, The New York Times and other publications noted the bank had purchased a plot on the corner of Graham Avenue and Varet Street with the intention of building a new Williamsburg branch. Public National already had a branch in Williamsburg, just two blocks away, but business had grown to the point that they needed to build a larger bank in order to accommodate their customers. Later that same year the architect of the new building at 47-49 Graham Avenue was announced: Eugene Schoen.