|Benton County State Bank|
The Benton County State Bank Building was dedicated on July 25, 1907. The bank, built in the ruins of a burned saloon, was a representative of a period of growth and prosperity in Corvallis at the beginning of the 20th century.
Corvallis' population grew from 1,817 in 1900 to 4,552 in 1910. Automobiles appeared in town, there was a housing boom tied to growth at the college, and the Willamette River -- which had played a prominent role in the community in the 19th century -- was no longer as important.
Citizens organized to improve and promote the town, creating the Village Improvement Society, the Civic Improvement Committee, the Benton County Citizens' League and the Commercial Club.
The Commercial Club promoted local paving projects, a cannery, sewer improvements and a gravity flow water system. Banker Archie J. Johnson, founder and president of the Benton County State Bank, was president of the Commercial Club for two years.
The Commercial Club advertised the benefits of Corvallis (which had become a "dry" town by local law in 1905) in this description of the town:
Prosperity and Progress are in the atmosphere, and are the marked characteristic of this rapidly developing community, while its prestige as an educational center lends indefinable charm in people and in manners which is indissolubly linked with a university town. The moral tome of the community is accentuated by the entire absence of saloons in Corvallis.
This enthusiasm and appreciation of the college coincided with the 1907 arrival of a new president at Oregon Agricultural College (now OSU). William Jasper Kerr, age 34, fostered the college's next 25 years of dramatic growth. During his tenure, the value of college facilities increased by 33 times, and enrollment rose from 740 in 1908 to 3,490 in 1929.
The First National Bank of Portland purchased the Benton County State Bank in 1946, and it became the First Corvallis Bank. Later it became the Corvallis Branch of the First National Bank of Oregon, and moved to Third and Monroe in 1957.
In late 1957, Citizens Bank, a new local bank, moved into this building, using the lot at First and Madison for drive-through customer banking. After Citizens Bank relocated to Third and Jefferson in 1975, this building was used as the Night Deposit restaurant, and later as offices for Lucidyne Technologies.
Earlier occupants of the building included: attorneys and physicians in the second-floor offices; various businesses in the storefronts on Second Street and Madison Avenue; and, in the basement, a barber shop and Turkish baths.
Left: The Benton County National Bank, open from 9 AM to 3 PM. After the bank became state-chartered in 1916, its name was changed to Benton County State Bank.
The storefront on the left was occupied by Graham and Wortham Drugs. Signs at the Second Street entry to the second floor advertised the Commercial Club's meetings. Upstairs tenants at this time included dentists Hanford and Lester, and lawyers McFadden and Clarke. Later upstairs occupants included attorneys Karl Huston, John D. Thomas and C.C. Carlson, and doctors Pernot, Johnson and Wilson.
The Madison storefront was occupied by the Up-to-Date Shoe Repair Parlor, and later by The Cycle bicycle shop. The basement was occupied by the Central Barber Shop, (Taylor and Price, proprietors), Champion Boot Black (10 cents) and the Turkish baths. Later, the basement houses the offices of J.W. Morgan Real Estate and Insurance.
A small portion of the Hodes' Pioneer Gun Store can be seen on the left of the photo. (Still visible in the sidewalk in front of this Second Street storefront is the name "HODES," with the impression of a rifle in the concrete.) To the right of the bank, across the alley toward the riverfront, appears the Corvallis Post Office, which occupied this site between 1908 and 1926.
Left: The Corvallis Post Office, 1908 to 1926.
Below: A view north on Second Street in the mid-1950s. By this time, the Benton County Bank was an affiliate of the First National Bank. Berman's Drugs appears on the west side of the intersection. On the south side of Madison Avenue were U.S. National Bank and the Hotel Corvallis.
Additional photos and text describes other historic banks in Corvallis.