Immediately across from our courthouse are several buildings that, like most of our historic downtown, date back at least 100 years.
This week as part of our series on the history of our downtown buildings, we look at the old Citizen’s Bank.
When we wrote about the old Bank of Hartsville building, we mentioned that before 1884 there were no banks in Hartsville or Trousdale County.
Before that year a person had to travel to the larger towns of Lebanon or Gallatin to do business with a bank, which was not very convenient.
But then not many people needed to do any banking! If you lived here in the mid-1800s, money was scarce!
After the disruption of the Civil War, paper money was as scarce as hen’s teeth. What cash a fellow had was probably kept under his mattress.
And people didn’t write checks to pay for most of what they bought because they ran charge accounts at their closest country store or at the stores they frequented in town. When they sold their tobacco crop, they paid off all their debts and started all over again.
The Bank of Hartsville was one of the first banks on the Upper Cumberland when it opened in 1884. But as Hartsville prospered, it needed another bank.
During the reconstruction of town following the fire of 1904, a group of local businessmen decided to start a second bank for Trousdale County.
The men expressed the belief that the old Bank of Hartsville was catering to the town’s wealthy and that the small businessman and farmer needed a place to do their banking that was friendlier to the little guy. So they called it “Citizen’s Bank.” That was in 1905.
The men with the capital to start a bank were John Dalton, Bill Oglesby, Jack Rankin and A.C. Welch.
The gentlemen placed their bank right across from the new courthouse, which proved to be a very convenient location.
Over the years, the bank has remained solvent. It didn’t lose money during the Great Depression, nor did it cease to operate during the great flood of 1926-27. The bank simply relocated to the upstairs courtroom of the building and continued business.
If you could get a rowboat and make your way into town, the bank was ready for you!
The bank can also boast that it has never been robbed. Although a few hoodlums were once chased away from the back entrance when they appeared to be trying the lock one dark night.
The original large glass windows, seen in this week’s photo, were covered over in the 1950s when the bank got a facelift!
Air conditioning was more efficient without those large windows and electric lights meant you didn’t need to depend on daylight to see what you were doing.
When Highway 25 was built in the 1950s, new businesses began to build on that stretch of road, which is now called McMurry Boulevard. And in the 1970s, Citizens Bank moved to its present location at the corner of McMurry and Broadway.
The new building became the main office and the downtown building became a branch.
As more and more downtown businesses either closed or moved to the highway, the need for a branch office ceased and it closed.
The vacant building then saw use as a drugstore. The old bank vault became handy as a secure place to lock away medicines, which after all were much more valuable than the old hand-mixed prescriptions of the past, and likely more valuable than the cash once stored there!
In recent years the old Citizen’s Bank building has become the law office of Sharon Linville. And once again the location has its advantages as the old courthouse and the new Justice Center are just a few steps away!