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In 1913, some sixteen years after the incorporation of Pottsville (Pope County), the town’s first bank—the Pottsville Citizens Bank—was chartered. On March 28, 2002, the bank, located at 156 East Ash Street, was added to the National Register of Historic places based on its contribution to the development of town commerce and the commercial architecture style of the building.
The town of Pottsville slowly developed in the immediate area surrounding the house of the area’s first settler, John Kirkbride Potts, who arrived in the 1820s. As the town grew, town leaders determined that there was a need for a bank. A bank was chartered, and a one-story brick building was constructed across from Potts’s home. On September 2, 1913, the Pottsville Citizens Bank, with a capital stock of $15,000 and $140,000 in deposits, opened for business.
The bank prospered and, unlike many others, was able to remain open during the Great Depression. In the mid-1930s, the southeastern corner of the building also had a barbershop. A community gathering place, the bank also served as a polling place during elections.
In 1966, the bank was consolidated with the People’s Bank and Trust Company of Russellville (Pope County). It remained in business for the next twenty-six years, closing on June 30, 1992. The building was then deeded to the city for municipal use.
The one-story brick building rests on a concrete foundation topped by a flat roof. There is a single door at the front and a large single-pane window crowned by a transom consisting of thirty-seven diamond-shaped light crowns. The front façade is protected from the elements by a corrugated metal awning. All four windows have sills of locally cut stone. The western side of the building has three large two-over-one double-hung windows. Another building, the Pryor Store, constructed in the 1920s, shares the eastern wall. Many of the interior fixtures—including a tile floor, marble inlay counter tops, and a vault—remain nearly intact.
The bank has been the scene of three robberies. The first was carried out in 1926 by a man wearing a Santa Claus mask. In 1928, a man who had robbed several of the town businesses attempted to cut a hole in the vault. The final attempt occurred in 1980 by a thief on a dirt bike. Each time, the robber was later apprehended.
For additional information:Latimer, Franklin A. “Arkansas Listings in the National Register of Historic Places.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 62 (Spring 2003): 87–90.
“Pottsville Citizens Bank.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/PP0377.nr.pdf (accessed June 6, 2015).
Mike Polston Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture
Last Updated 6/6/2015
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