Friday, June 5, 2009

The Age of Main Street Banking

In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, nearly all Nebraska communities had at least one bank. It was a necessity in an era much less mobile than our own. In order to convince the public of their stability and trustworthiness, these financial institutions turned to architecture to convey this notion. The result: substantial, well-built, ornate structures. While the Depression and rural demographic shifts brought an end to many of these banks, the buildings themselves often remain a downtown fixture; a reminder of the age of main street banking.

West Point, Nebraska

Nebraska State Bank / Farmers & Merchants Bank

The Nebraska State Bank shortly after its construction in 1921.

The following information is taken from The Best Point for 150 Years: West Point, Nebraska 1858-2008.

"In January 1921 the new Nebraska State Bank opened for business, one of the best in northeast Nebraska. The fixtures and furniture were mahogany and arranged to make the transaction of business roomy and comfortable."

"By December 1930 the effects of the Depression hit full blast when Nebraska State Bank closed its doors voluntarily and the state bank examiner took charge of accounts. A committee was selected and their first job was to work on reorganizing the bank with hope that it would reopen."

"Creditors of the bank met and accepted the proposal that a new bank be created. In April 1931 a new bank, Farmers & Merchants, opened in the same building."

Farmer & Merchants Bank constructed a new building and the city of West Point purchased the building in 1962 for use as the public library. The former bank building served as the city library until 1984 when the John A. Stahl Library was opened.

Since 2001, the former bank has been home to LPL Financial Services and features a restored and updated interior.

The former Nebraska State Bank in the context of downtown.

And circa 1940.

The building as the West Point Public Library as depicted in a 1984 mosaic formerly located in the West Point Community Theatre.

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