Financial Institutions

Samuel T. Hauser's First National Bank, circa 1892


LITHOGRAPH BY WARD BROS., COLUMBUS OHIO - COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

This building is still standing, at what was once the corner of Main and Grand.

 

 

As it appears now, known as the Securities Building

 

 

A Recent Interior View of the Securities Building


PHOTO BY KEITH NAY



Two Prominent Bank Buildings of Old
MERCHANTS NATIONAL BANK • MONTANA NATIONAL BANK


A fancifully-tinted ca. 1900 postcard view of Last Chance Gulch, looking south from Grand St. Prominent on the right is the (white) 1890 Merchants National Bank building, and the (yellow) 1883 Montana National Bank building. On the near left is the red brick Thompson Block, on the site of the future Placer Hotel. The red building on the right is the Grand Central Hotel, later the Harvey Hotel.

 

L. H. HERSHFIELD & BRO. BANKING HOUSE 1965-1882
MERCHANTS NATIONAL BANK - 1882-1898
UNION BANK & TRUST CO. - 1898 - 1959

In November 1865, L H. Hershfield opened a private bank in Last Chance Gulch, near the corner of Bridge Street (later State Street) and Warren Street, supplementing his bank in Virginia City.

Two years later his brother, Aaron, became associated with him, and the L. H. Hershfield and Bro. banking house operated as one of the leading financial firms in the territory until June 10,1882 when it obtained a charter as the Merchants National Bank of Helena. This bank was located at 52 South Main which in later years, and until April, 1958, was occupied by The Independent Record newswpaper.

 

Merchants National Bank, circa 1892


CIRCA 1892 LITHOGRAPH BY WARD BROS., COLUMBUS OHIO - COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

In 1890 the Merchants National constructed this six-story bank building on the NW corner of Main and Edwards, where Helena's second (1872) Masonic Temple once stood. Eight years later, after the Merchants had suspended business operations, they sold the building to the newly-organized Union Bank and Trust Company. The Union Bank maintained its quarters there for 61 years, moving to a new building at the SW corner of Lawrence and Last Chance Gulch in July of 1959.

Montana Power offices then moved into the main floor of the Merchants National building, then known as the Wheat Building, and the upper floors were leased as office space. The handsome structure was demolished in the autumn of 1975, during Urban Renewal.

 

Union Bank & Trust Co. employees, 1920s.
FROM LEFT: ___ Mc Connell, Edna Kain, Claude McGuinness,
Irvin Gibson, Ben Draper, Bill Lane, Ed Butler, Frank Ladan.


FROM THE 1965 LAST CHANCE STAMPEDE PROGRAM • COURTESY OF KITTY ANN QUIGLEY TAALER




Union Bank & Trust Co. Christmas party, December 22, 1949


COURTESY OF MIKE MILLEGAN • CLICK ON PHOTO FOR A LARGE VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW

Helena native Nancy Goodspeed adds: "The father holding the little girl on the left side of the photo is Ray Hess, a long time Union Bank official. He is holding his youngest daughter, Paulette Rae Hess (later Brown, and wife of Helena Mayor Rich Brown) who was my college roommate and long time friend."

Thanks, Nancy, for all your wonderful contibutions to this website!

 

Union Bank Teller, 1953


FROM THE 1953 CARROLL COLLEGE 'HILLTOPPER' YEARBOOK - COURTESY OF THE MONTANA MEMORY PROJECT

 


The New Union Bank & Trust Co. - Main at Lawrence

Preparation for the construction of the new Union Bank began in November of 1957, with the demolition of the 1924 Phoenix Building. The bank opened with great fanfare on July 20, 1959.

Notable inside the building is the ceramic mural in the lobby, done by the late Rudy Autio. There is also an interesting collection of gold, in various forms, housed in a secure room off of the lobby. Another novelty was the ice-free heated sidewalk, which was quite welcome from about November to March.


Union Bank Interior, ca 1960 • Photo by Clarence DeWalt


COURTESY OF DAVID POOR • CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW


COURTESY OF TOM KILMER

Souvenir smoke-glass ashtray, given out when the new Union Bank building opened in 1959.


First Deposit in the New Bank Made by John Quigley of Frontier Town

 

 

The Union Bank Weather Ball



1962 ad featuring the weather ball



The Weather Ball, 1963


COURTESY OF KITTY ANN QUIGLEY TAALER

 

 

 

Weather Ball Lore

 



Union Bank & Trust Co. Christmas Party, Dec. 20, 1962


KENNON BAIRD COLLECTION • CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW



Rustic 1964 "Fort Union" Stockade


FROM THE 1964 LAST CHANCE STAMPEDE PROGRAM • COURTESY OF KITTY ANN QUIGLEY TAALER

Like many Helena businesses during the Territorial Centennial year of 1964, Union Bank added a frontier look with a decorative split-log structure. "Fort Union" faced Lawrence St.

Two Small Calendars from the 1960s • David Poor Collection


Montana National Bank
(later the National Bank of Montana)


1892 LITHOGRAPH BY WARD BROS., COLUMBUS OHIO - COLLECTION OF KENNON BAIRD

Built by Charles A. Broadwater in 1886, The Montana National Bank building stood on the SW corner of Main and Edwards St. Edwards was eliminated during the 1970s Urban Renewal project.

1884 newspaper ad for the Montana National Bank.

 

 

1942 view of the Montana National Bank, Main at Edwards.


Widow of Bank's Co-founder Perishes in January 9, 1944 Blaze

Montana National Bank Fire from Edwards Street
Taken Prior to the Explosion that Collapsed Much of the Building


COURTESY OF CAPT. SEAN LOGAN & THE HELENA FIRE DEPT.
FOR MORE HISTORIC HFD PHOTOS, CLICK HERE!

The Montana National Bank building was destroyed by fire on January 9, 1944. Killed in the blaze were two elderly women, Elizabeth and Laura Clarke, sisters-in-law who resided in an apartment on the fourth floor. Elizabeth Clarke, 81, was the widow of A. G. Clarke, founding Vice President of the bank. Her sister-in-law Laura Clarke, 83, was the widow of A. G.'s brother, Will. Eight others were injured in the fire, several critically.

 

Montana National Bank Fire from Park Ave.
The rear of the Marlow Theatre is seen on the left


COURTESY OF CAPT. SEAN LOGAN & THE HELENA FIRE DEPT.
FOR MORE HISTORIC HFD PHOTOS, CLICK HERE!

 

Fire Aftermath


THE DAVID HULL COLLECTION


COURTESY OF WENDI KOTTAS PETERSON

Edwards Street
Eliminated by 1970s Urban Renewal

Edwards Street, which ran east/west between Main Street and Olive Street, had a distinctly urban feel about it, as evidenced by the 1944 fire photograph above. The main attraction on Edwards was, of course, the majestic Marlow Theatre, another victim of Urban Renewal.

In 1999, Helena historian Vivian Hayes wrote a wonderful article about Edwards Street for the Independent Record. Courtesy of Vivian, we are very pleased to present it here in PDF format. Click on the images below for parts 1 and 2:




The Helena Branch of the
Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank


COURTESY OF TOM KILMER • CLICK ON IMAGE FOR A LARGE VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW

This building (1910-1974), located on the southeast corner of Edwards St. and Park Ave., was built to house the Helena Automatic Telephone Company, which operated from 1910-1914.

During that time, Helena had two phone companies, the other being the Rocky Mountain Telephone Company. The exchanges were not integrated, so some people had to have two telephones. When the Helena Retail Merchants Association opted to go exclusively with Rocky Mountain, Helena Automatic folded. This building subsequently housed the Foidel Undertaking Company from about 1915-1921...

The building became the Federal Reserve Branch Bank in 1921. The second story was added at that time, along with significant interior alterations. After the Bank moved to custom-built quarters on Park Ave. in 1938, the building became the Union Bus Depot. The building was demolished in 1974 during Urban Renewal.



1935 Earthquake Damage


COURTESY OF THE SEAN LOGAN COLLECTION • CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW



One of the Last Photos of the
Helena Automatic Telephone Company Building, 1974

Part of the Marlow Theatre can be seen in the background


THE WES AND CAROL SYNNESS COLLECTION

 

Helena Branch of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, 400 N. Park Ave.
1937 - today


FROM THE WEBSITE OF THE MINNEAPOLIS FEDERAL RESERVE BANK



LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

The flower-bedecked lobby of the old Federal Reserve Branch Bank, Park Ave. at Lawrence. Photo taken on the bank's opening day, June 17, 1938.

The building was constructed in 1937-38 and served as the Federal Reserve Bank until 1990. It was originally only one story tall, the second story added in 1946.

In 1990, the new Federal Reserve Bank opened at 100 Neill Ave., on the site of the Great Northern Depot...


FROM THE WEBSITE OF THE
MINNEAPOLIS FEDERAL RESERVE BANK

The former bank building on Park Ave. was purchased by John T. Betts, and remodeled in 1991 to accommodate offices on the upper and lower level, and the First Montana Title Company on the main level. The remodeling process was careful to preserve the character and detail of the building. Now called the Reserve Financial Center, it is still home to 4 major vaults and 34 smaller vaults throughout the building.

 


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