Zapateria El Maestro

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.

FRESNO'S REDLINING HISTORY

ADDRESS

947-951 F St, 

Fresno, CA 93706

IMG_8841.JPG
DR. BUNTARO OKONOGI

Born in Fukushima, Japan in 1871 as the ninth son of a doctor, Fukushima served as president of the Japanese Association of Fresno pre WWll. He also established the first financial lending institution for Fresno’s Japanese population (Industrial Bank of Fresno). The Industrial Bank of Fresno was an incredibly important lending institution because it gave Japanese Americans an opportunity to acquire property during a time when lending institutions were discriminating towards people of color (redlining). 

 

Okonogi was an entrepreneur with a strong educational background. He received his education, a medical degree, in Tokyo, New York & Stanford University Medical School. After getting his degree he moved to Fresno in 1901 & started his first hospital in a building at 736 E St, Fresno, CA 93706. Twenty five years later he built a 38 brick hospital at the corner of Mono & E St.

 

Once WWll began, Okonogi was sent to Pinedale Assembly Center, a detention center for the Japanese population, with his daughter Ena & son Dr. Hugo Okonogi where he served as a doctor. Okonogi was then sent to an internment camp with his daughter in Poston, Arizona where he was the camp physician. Once the war ended he returned to Fresno & began practicing medicine again.

 

Okonogi was known for his great humanitarian spirit. He died in 1950, but in his will he left clear instructions to forgive all his patients debts.