Although not a native of Fort Smith and a resident for not more than 16 years, William Blair was so well-respected and loved that the mayor of Fort Smith at the time of his death in 1903 asked that all businesses shut during the hour of his funeral. He was born in New York in 1842 but spent his early life in Wisconsin. After a stint in the flour milling business, Blair went into banking, organizing the First National Bank in Russell, Kan. Selling out his interest there, he turned around and invested in the future of the city of Fort Smith by buying a large interest in American National Bank along with his son-in-law, Emory Haskett. He also built a flour mill which burned down after four years of operation and a lumber mill which burned down after five years of operation.
In addition to building his classical or colonial revival home on North Seventh, Blair was responsible for the construction of the American National Bank building on Garrison Avenue (the old Chamber of Commerce building). It was a building of distinction on the avenue, once possessing a third floor and an onion dome on its turret that rose above the roof line.
Blair died of heart failure at the age of 60 for which the News Record blamed overwork. His funeral was held in the Haskett house.