Almont’s first bank was opened in 1860 by Leonard Williams. He also operated a mercantile business.
In 1869, Frederick P. Currier Sr. sold the Currier Agricultural Works to his son, Henry. The next year, Frederick joined with newly arrived Uriel Townsend to create the banking firm of Townsend and Currier.
They built a building on the northeast corner of Main and St. Clair Streets. The building housed the bank and businesses operated by S. Smith and Taylor & Hopkin (current location of The Almont Baking & Donut Co. – 102 North Main Street).
Two years later in 1872, the Townsend and Currier bank was sold to Charles D. Ferguson and his son, Charles R. Ferguson. For the next 37 years, C. Ferguson & Son was the only bank in town.
On September 9, 1909, the Almont Savings Bank was formed and opened. The bank was located at 109 South Main Street, which had been the location of John Hopkin’s general store. That building no longer exists. It was destroyed in the Super Bowl Sunday fire of January 1992. The building housing Roots now occupies that site.
The bank officers were William Wallace Taylor as president, F. P. Andrus as vice-president, and George Hart as cashier.
Initially, the Almont Savings Bank got most of its customers from the C. Ferguson & Son Bank. The banks co-existed until after World War I. Immediately after the war, the financial markets were tight and the C. Ferguson & Son Bank did not survive. It closed in 1921, leaving the Almont Savings Bank as the only bank in town.
In the early stages of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, Almont Savings Bank was forced into receivership. A new Board of Directors was elected and the bank reopened. About 1932, L. A. Bechtol was appointed cashier and remained in that position until his death in 1959. He successfully oversaw the bank through the Bank Holiday in March 1933. His wife, Elizabeth Bechtol, became cashier upon his death and remained in that position until she retired in 1972.
Upon Mrs. Bechtol’s retirement, Mildred “Min” Dunbar moved up from being assistant cashier to became cashier and the bank’s chief executive officer.
On a personal note, in early 1952, my parents went to the bank to get a loan to construct our home on Bordman Road. At that time, Leon Bishop had final say on all loans. Mr. Bishop was not inclined to grant the loan. He knew my mother and her father, George M. Hoyt, with whom we were living but knew little about my father. Dad, James C. Wade, had only started working at Hamill Manufacturing in January and Mr. Bishop was skeptical of his ability to repay the loan. Mrs. Dunbar took my parent’s side and finally got Mr. Bishop to approve the loan by reminding him that the lumber for the house would be purchased at the Bishop Lumber yard. This was typical of the bank. They took into account not just the financial information but also the character and integrity of the people with whom they did business.
The population of Almont had been stable from 1860 to 1950 but beginnings in the 1950s and accelerating through the 1960s and into the 1970s, the population of Almont dramatically increased. The bank outgrew the downtown location. About 1972 the bank constructed a new 1,500 square foot facility with off-street parking at 402 North Main Street. This lot was vacant as the result of a house fire in the late 1960s.
With the continuing growth of the community, an addition of 1,500 square feet was constructed and opened in late 1979. At this time, the Board of Directors of the Almont Savings Bank were Leon T. Bishop, John Bishop, Elmore Higby, Richard Klink, James Ligon and Russell Lovell.
At the time of the opening of the addition to the bank, several of the major bank shareholders wanted to retire. In February 1980, they negotiated a consolidation with Pacesetter Financial Corporation of Grand Rapids. Michigan. After 70 years, the name Almont Savings Bank ceased to be used to refer to the bank.
Through the years, the bank has always existed but has undergone numerous changes of ownership and names. In the recent past, it has been known as PNC Bank. Unfortunately, the Almont branch of PNC Bank recently closed. Almonter’s now have to go to Imlay City to do business with a PNC branch.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.