The Tucker County Bank Building

Front Street in 1911.  The Tucker County Bank Building is at the left.  West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries.

Front Street in 1911.  The Tucker County Bank Building is at the left.  West Virginia and Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries.

The Bank Building in 2013.  Photo by Rachel Puelle.

The Bank Building in 2013.  Photo by Rachel Puelle.

From dentists and lawyers to soda fountain gossips, freemasons to haberdashers, horse-drawn carriages to SUVs, floodwaters to Fouth-of-July parades — the Bank Building has seen it all.  Here's an inside look at the building's history and the building itself.


History

The Bank Building was constructed during a boom period in both state and local history. Parsons had sprung up as a lumber town with the arrival of the railroad in 1888, and by 1893 it had become the county seat.  In just ten years, the population had surged from less than a hundred to 618, and by 1903 Parsons was a thriving town with its own courthouse and railroad station.  The Tucker County Bank, founded in 1900 in the midst of swift economic growth, soon outgrew its original office in the Courthouse, and in 1903 it moved across the street into the new three-story brick Bank Building.  As the Courthouse came to represent the political heart of Parsons, the Bank Building became its commercial and social hub.

The Bank Building has been a versatile, multi-faceted space since its earliest days.  A series of drugstores shared the ground floor with the Tucker County Bank until the 1970s, and members of the community often gathered at the soda fountain.  Posters and programs from the Victoria Theatre were regularly advertised there, and Greyhound Bus Lines used the drugstore as a depot for selling tickets and picking up passengers. The second floor has accommodated a variety of offices, including a dentist, a legal firm, an insurance agency, a telephone company, and the Tucker County Board of Education.  The third floor was home to a Masonic Lodge from 1905 until 2002. 

The Bank Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.  Its registration form, which offers many more historical details, can be found here.  You might also want to have a look at this series of blog posts (Part I / Part II / Part III) written by Rachel Puelle (AmeriCorps 2013-2014).


A Look Inside

The Third Floor

The third floor, a former Masonic Lodge, is a ballroom-like expanse illuminated by many tall, elegant windows (which ironically would have been covered during its Freemason years).  A stage platform anchors each end of the spacious room.  Toward the back of the building is the former kitchen, where refreshments were prepared for the many large events held here.

Doorway from kitchen to ballroom.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Doorway from kitchen to ballroom.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

The third floor is still swathed in bright blue, the official color of the Freemasons.  Beneath that thick carpet are the original hardwood floors.  The pressed tin ceiling panels and fixtures are still in remarkably good shape.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

The third floor is still swathed in bright blue, the official color of the Freemasons.  Beneath that thick carpet are the original hardwood floors.  The pressed tin ceiling panels and fixtures are still in remarkably good shape.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Tin ceiling panels and light fixture. Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Tin ceiling panels and light fixture. Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

West windows.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

West windows.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

View of the Tucker County Courthouse from the third floor.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

View of the Tucker County Courthouse from the third floor.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

The Second Floor

The second floor is divided into several office spaces.  The bright blue of the third story gives way to the warm tones of wood and brass.

The second floor landing, with stairs leading up to the Masonic lodge.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

The second floor landing, with stairs leading up to the Masonic lodge.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

"A Deposit Required On All Sittings": a remnant of the dentistry practice of Dr. OA Miller and his father in law Dr. BM West, located on the second floor of the Bank Building.  Photo by Rachel Puelle, 2014.

"A Deposit Required On All Sittings": a remnant of the dentistry practice of Dr. OA Miller and his father in law Dr. BM West, located on the second floor of the Bank Building.  Photo by Rachel Puelle, 2014.

Entrance to the former dentist's office.  Original windows are stacked at left.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Entrance to the former dentist's office.  Original windows are stacked at left.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Original doorknob.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Original doorknob.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Corner office.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Corner office.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Second floor doorway.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Second floor doorway.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Door at the top of the stairs.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Door at the top of the stairs.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Another second floor office with wiring hanging down.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Another second floor office with wiring hanging down.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

The First Floor

Much of the first floor had to be extensively remodeled after the Tucker County Bank moved out decades ago, due to the removal of the large bank vault.  GJ Garton Insurance now occupies that part of the building.  The former drug store on the Walnut Street side will soon be home to The Paint Store and Piccolo Paula's.  The First Street entrance gives access to the upper levels.

First Street entrance at the bottom of the stairs.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

First Street entrance at the bottom of the stairs.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Dusty stair lift.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

Dusty stair lift.  Photo by Sydney Haltom, March 2015.

What would you like to see on the upper floors of the Bank Building in the future?  Let us know in the comments!