Merchants State Bank Debacle, Part III

407 N Second Avenue

Part I covered the five-year timeline of the Merchants State Bank. Part II covered the fallout. Now it’s time to talk about the building itself. As mentioned previously, this Victorian beauty was built in 1886.

The 1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the McCarty Block pictured above with addresses of 714 and 715 Second Avenue. This was prior to the staggered odd and even street numbers.

While George Hoover was winding down the process of foreclosing on properties so creditors could be repaid, his wife was selling flowers and sometimes pants in the bank building.

The Globe-Republican, March 31, 1892

George R Cochran also set up a crop insurance office there.

The Globe-Republican, May 23, 1892

The final payments to creditors were made in January of 1894 at which time Hoover, R. W. Evans, and E. F. Kellogg opened a new bank in the old Merchants State Bank building.

The Globe-Republican, January 12, 1894

Kellogg, who had worked at First National Bank, was the Cashier. The starting capital was $6,000 – much more modest than the $50,000 claimed by the Merchants State Bank. This new private bank was called Bank of Dodge City.

The Globe-Republican, May 11, 1894

Things then became very boring! After four years of nothingburgers, the bank went public. State Bank of Dodge City was formed on December 6, 1898.

Ford County Leader, December 9, 1898

You can just barely make out “STATE BANK OF DODGE CITY” on the south end of the building in the post card below.

Richard Evans, Jr. opened a law office on the second floor in November of 1904. A. B. Reeves also had a law office up there as early as May of 1909. E. F. Kellogg suffered a stroke and died the following month and was replaced by W. B. Wolfe.

Photographer Unknown

The 1911 Sanborn Map shows the block had been renumbered and the bank’s new street address was 407 Second Avenue.

1919 was when things got weird. I was unable to find any information about why the building needed to be replaced. It was less than 35 years old and I never found any indication it had been damaged by fire or had any other significant issues. Maybe it was just viewed as being dated.

The Dodge City Journal, March 6, 1919

The bank was open for business in the old post office building next door by mid-April and the new building was ready by the end of 1919.

The front of the new structure was covered with white tile, which I’m sure many of you will recognize. It doesn’t look like a two-story structure when compared to the extremely tall post office building but later photos better show its height.

I guess you just had to see those copper curtains in person. Perhaps the word “artistic” was used because they were less than attractive.

The Dodge City Journal, August 5, 1920

State Bank of Dodge City and Southwest National Bank merged in September of 1922. Southwest National had been right next door in the old post office building. Operations were continued in the State Bank building.

The Dodge City Journal, September 7, 1922

The photo below was taken in 1925. You can see the old post office still looked like a Victorian building at that time.

Photographer Unknown

This photo was taken in March of 1930 and something terrible had happened to the old post office. Suddenly, it resembled a brick shoe box.

Photographer Unknown

State Bank of Dodge City was merged out of existence in January of 1933 when it was combined with Kansas State Bank to form Fidelity State Bank. Operations were consolidated at the current Fidelity building located at Second Avenue and Walnut/Gunsmoke Street.

The Hutchinson News, January 3, 1933

Here’s another familiar name! By June of 1933, the W. A. Layton Land and Investment Company was located at 407 Second Avenue.

Opportunity, June 1, 1933

By 1937, Layton’s land company shared the building with Dodge City Shoe and Hat Shop and White Star Taxi. But it was the next occupant most of you will recognize.

1947 City Directory and Business and Professional Guide for Dodge City, Kansas

Lester’s son, David, bought the agency in 1963. Butler Insurance Agency was in that location for more than 20 years.

Photo by Hoover Cott

This photo was taken right before the Urban Renewal Project demolition. It clearly shows there was room for a second floor even though it still looks short next to its neighbor.

Photo by Joleen Fromm

The old Merchants State Bank building was located just west of El Capitan stands today. More specifically, it would have been across from the north end of the statue’s base.

You can play with the Google Street View to change the perspective and see where it was in relationship to the remaining structures when Second Avenue was a through-street. I’m really interested to see how everything looks once the new streetscape project is completed.

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