INDUSTRIAL BANK OF FRESNO
The Industrial Bank of Fresno, a two story brick structure with Mission Revival style ornamentations was established by Dr. Buntaro Okonogi in 1908 & became the first financial lending institution in Fresno to serve the Japanese population. This was incredibly important because the bank made it possible for the Japanese community to acquire property during a time when racial discrimination was rampant among lending institutions.
Fresno has a long and complicated history with “redlining” & racial discrimination. The term redlining refers to the systemic denial of various services or goods by government agencies, local governments, or the private sector. One way this was done in Fresno was by denying loans to people of color in order to prevent them from moving into white neighborhoods.
There were several businesses that operated out of this building such as; the Japanese American Newspaper, the Japanese Association of Fresno, T.K. Tomita General Business Agency & George’s Photography Study. The building was later bought by the West Fresno branch of the Bank of Italy (now Bank of America).
For several years the building remained vacant, today, the second floor has been converted into SROs (single room occupancy), a form of housing that is typically aimed at residents with low or minimal incomes.