Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 16, 2013

History a big part of EC bank event

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — History is front and center for an Elmore City bank this month as it celebrates a pretty unique anniversary with a fond and up close look back at its roots.

The birthday candles go all the way up to 110 years for the First State Bank of Elmore City in October.

The bank is inviting the community and its customers, better described as hometown friends, to join in a special gathering set for next week.

Not only is the EC bank celebrating its long service to a town it cherishes as family, it’s also giving everyone a chance to jump back to the past with a tour of the bank’s former facility located right across the street.

That old building was constructed back in 1910 and served as the site of the First State Bank up until 1962.

Now efforts are well underway to salvage the old bank building as a part of Elmore City’s history and restore it as a museum.

Those same efforts include getting the site officially registered as one of those really great historical places to visit.

One longtime Elmore resident who way back when used to bank in that old building thinks these efforts are a good thing for the community.

Bill Ward, who has spent most of his 78 years living in Elmore City, believes this push to get the old building restored is a great way to preserve the history of the town he’s called home for a long time.

“I love it,” Ward said about the building being turned into a museum.

“We need something like this,” he said. “There’s a lot of history here.”

The big event is set for Tuesday, Oct. 22 as the First State Bank is inviting the public to be a part of its celebration honoring 110 years of service in the Elmore City community.

Gift bags and refreshments will be a part of the celebration officially starting at 1 p.m. that day.

Patrons are invited to drop by the bank at 206 South Main or the old bank located right across the street.

With the old site being converted into a museum, tours will be available from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m.

It’s Nancy Warren, an executive vice president at the bank, and J.R. McCaskill, a retired history teacher, who are among those leading the charge to save the old building, restore and preserve it as a museum and someday get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Both grew up in Elmore City and consider the history of their hometown a big deal.

In 2011 it was Nancy, just out of curiosity, who began researching the history of the bank online.

She was surprised to learn First State Bank in Elmore City held a distinct honor for all of Oklahoma.

Warren learned it was actually the first bank chartered in Oklahoma when it became a state in 1907.

“We were the first state chartered bank in Oklahoma,” Warren said.

“We have the letter from the Oklahoma Banking Department confirming that.”

McCaskill thinks that fact and the bank being open for so long are really great things for EC.

“There’s some uniqueness to a single business surviving for 110 years,” McCaskill said. “How many businesses can say they’ve been in business for more than 100 years?”

Editor’s Note: More on the history of the First State Bank in Elmore City will be featured in Thursday’s edition of the PV Democrat.