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