THE D. O. MILLS BANK BUILDING:
OVER ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF HISTORY
The D. O. Mills Bank Building at the corner of 7th and J Street,
Sacramento, California, contains a measure of that chivalrous
past of California – the GOLD RUSH OF 1849!
In 1848, a brave and gallant gentleman, Darius O. Mills, just
twenty-two years of age, set sail from his native North Salem,
Westchester County, New York, for California – the Land of
gold. Arriving on the bark, “Massachusetts”, off the heads in
Yerba Buena (now San Francisco Bay), Mills quickly decided
there was more likelihood for a fortune being made in trading
than in prospecting for gold. His first venture was to buy a
boatload of supplies to take up the San Joaquin River to sell
to the gold miners. However, with the Gold Rush gaining
momentum, it took only a few months until he realized there
was a dire need for a bank to service the gold miners who
came to town with pouches of gold dust and nuggets. With
his New York background in banking, Darius O. Mills was
ready to move forward!
In 1853, the Bank of D. O. Mills was built at 3rd and “J” Streets.
In 1856, Mills took in his brother and the cashier as partners at
$100,000 each. Eight years later, the holdings had increased
to $3 million. In 1872, the Bank incorporated under the name
of the National Gold Bank of D. O. Mills and Company.
In 1912, the building at 7th and “I” Streets was erected.
In 1925, the California National Bank, the California Trust and
Savings Bank and the National Bank of D. O. Mills were
amalgamated. The building at 7th and “J” was enlarged and
the annex was built to house the three banks. You can see the
addition in the original bank on 7th Street with the different
color of the granite. All floors were used for the Bank. The
California National Bank, as it was commonly known,
continued in operation until 1933 when President Roosevelt
declared “The Bank Holiday”. It never reopened its doors even
though all depositors were eventually paid in full. The State of
California purchased the building to house the Bureau of Vital
Statistics, the Industrial Accident Claims Board and other
In 1963, the Bank of Sacramento opened its doors for
business at 812 “J” Street. The bank grew so rapidly that the
small building was not adequate. When the State of California
put the building up for bid in 1965, the Bank of Sacramento
purchased the building for $440,000. The renovation and
furnishings cost another $400,000. In May, 1966, the Bank of
Sacramento moved into its new quarters.
In August, 1979, the Bank of Sacramento was merged into
Security Pacific National Bank. In November, 1979, Security
Pacific National Bank renovated the building again at a cost of
approximately $668,00O. Since 1912, the ceiling had not been
cleaned. As part of the 1979 renovation, the ceiling was
cleaned which brought the highlights and detailed work of
the gold leaf rosebuds. The consoles and cornices and the
teller’s area have also been restored to their original beauty.
From 1990 forward, the Bank has been owned by private
parties. The first floor was converted into the Sacramento
Grand Ballroom and is rented for various social and business
events. The original decor of the Bank has been preserved.
The ceiling is forty-five feet high and composed of an
extremely ornate cast plaster, painted to simulate gold leaf
finish. The antique brass teller cages are original and the bar
railing is imported Italian Marble.
Darius O. Mills died at Millbrae, California, January 3, 1910, at
the age of 84 years. In his passing, California lost one of her
great citizens. In part, his legacy includes the donation to the
State of California the marble statue that sits in the Capitol’s
Rotunda of Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus. Also,
never forgetting the plights of hard-working men, he built
three hotels in New York City to allow those working men
who needed a meal and a clean bed in which to sleep to
come in for just a few pennies.
Today, in deference to its founder, Darius O. Mills, The
National Bank of D. O. Mills & Co. is etched in granite across
the front of the building and, in Roman numerals, the year –