US Bank closing marks first time in Glenwood history that a bank hasn’t occupied downtown corner | PostIndependent.com
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US Bank closing marks first time in Glenwood history that a bank hasn’t occupied downtown corner

The First National Bank building became a more-prominent downtown landmark with its big rooftop sign in the middle part of the 20th century.
Courtesy Carleton Hubbard

An era dating back to Glenwood Springs’ founding 135 years ago ends with US Bank’s decision earlier this year to close its downtown banking facility.

Glenwood Springs had just been founded in 1885 when its very first lending institution, the George Arthur Rice Co., opened up at the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Grand Avenue.

“Capitalized with $10,000, Rice tended to the financial needs of a growing community,” Willa Kane wrote in her May 1, 2012 Frontier Diary column in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

A historical record she compiled from the Glenwood Springs Historical Society archives, along with a timeline provided by Glenwood Springs native and local historian Carleton “Hub” Hubbard tells the story from there.

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As one might guess, noted Glenwood Springs developer and architect Walter Devereux and railroad magnate J.J. Hagerman, along with investors DRC Brown, Jerome B. Wheeler and George Henry Hewitt, had a hand in most things regarding money in those early days.

In 1887, they invested $50,000 to form First National Bank, and the three-story structure that still stands today — now owned by Colorado Mountain College — was built at 802 Grand Avenue.

The bank occupied about a quarter of the ground floor, and the remainder of the building was rented out to various businesses and for residential apartments, Hubbard said.

Hagerman chaired the bank organization, while Devereux was vice president and a gentleman by the name of J.H. Fesler, who later became well known in Denver banking circles, was the cashier, according to Hubbard’s account.

“The First National Bank of Glenwood Springs opened for business on June 1, 1887,” Kane wrote in her column, which was penned on the occasion of the bank’s 125th anniversary. “Ten days later, deposits totaled $100,000.”

The early days of First National Bank’s presence at the corner of Eighth and Grand in downtown Glenwood Springs.
Courtesy Carleton Hubbard

The very next month, Glenwood National Bank — backed by future Redstone developer and mining magnate John Cleveland Osgood — opened just up the block at 828 Grand Ave.

“In July 1891, the Glenwood National Bank voluntarily liquidated, leaving the First National Bank to solely fill the community’s needs,” Kane wrote in her account.

Twelve years later, another group of Glenwood Springs businessmen opened the Citizens National Bank at 729 Grand Ave., where the Daily Bread restaurant is now located.

One of the rooms in what’s now a local’s favorite for breakfast and lunch was a vault, Hubbard noted. There was also a famous bank robbery there in 1909.

“In 1914, the Citizens National Bank built a stately new building at 801 Grand Ave., directly across the street from the First National Bank,” Kane’s column continued.

By then, downtown Glenwood Springs was bustling with all sorts of commercial activity, not to mention acts of bravery.

Among Hubbard’s collection of historic photos is one from 1916 showing a giant ramp that was erected in the middle of Grand Avenue at the corner of Eighth Street. One of the day’s daredevils famously rode his bicycle down the ramp, coming out in front of the Hotel Glenwood.

A large ramp was erected in front of the First National Bank building and the Hotel Glenwood for a daredevil bicyclist stunt.
Courtesy Carleton Hubbard

“The two banks competed for nearly three decades until the stock market crash of 1929. Three years later, the Citizens National Bank closed its doors, leaving the First National Bank again as Glenwood Springs’ sole banking institution,” according to Kane’s historical account.

In 1940, the building was remodeled when a new group of bank investors, including the J.V. Rose Motor Co., entered the picture. That’s when the large “First National Bank” sign was erected on the roof, serving as an iconic landmark for many years to come.

In December 1945, the neighboring Hotel Glenwood caught fire and burned to the ground. Several people died in the blaze and the heat from the fire broke out all the windows on the north side of the bank building across the street.

A few years later, the top floor of the bank became a hospital, and various doctor’s offices occupied the second floor along with accountants and other businesses, Hubbard recalled.

In 1961, the bank was sold to George McKinley, with whom Hubbard was good friends.

Hubbard recalled a bank robbery at First National in 1973 when a bank official was kidnapped from his home in Glenwood. His wife and children were tied up, and he was taken by force to the bank and made to open the vault. The robbers, who were never caught, made off with $50,000.

In 1976, the bank was again sold to the Baldwin Piano Co., which owned it for another 10 years before the First National Bank name went away with its sale to Central Bank.

The late 1980s and early ’90s saw more name changes when Central Bank sold out to First Bank Systems of Minneapolis, which then became part of Colorado National Bank, and in 1997 became known as US Bank.

Over the years, the bank had acquired some of the lands farther south on Grand Avenue where the main US Bank facility is now located, Hubbard said.

US Bank kept its downtown branch in operation until announcing this past March that it would be closing the facility.

Early on, the bank had leased the space from the former building owners, Aspen Research Group Ltd.

“At some time prior to 2006, Aspen Research Group sold the building to Walter L. Jenkins, Raydean Acevedo, Dennis W. Kruger and Tomas C. Lacy,” said Debra Crawford, public information officer for current building owner CMC.

“In 2008, the individuals created an entity, 802 Grand, LLC, which is who we bought the property from,” Crawford said.

The bank officially closed to regular business on May 5, but due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak has been unable to fully vacate the space. A sign on the door says safe deposit box owners have until June 4 to schedule a time to come claim their belongings.

“CMC has been working with the bank on the terms of the lease termination,” Crawford said in a follow-up statement. “In the coming months, facilities staff will work with senior leadership to explore options for how the space may be repurposed.”

jstroud@postindependent.com


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