Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, November 11, 2018, pg. 10
In October many Albion residents received a letter from Huntington Bank informing us that our downtown bank at 207 S. Superior St. will be closing as of January 8, 2019. Ho-hum, the bank is closing. In years past this would have made headlines in the paper and caused investigations and outcries by city and local leaders. In today's banking world however, most banking transactions are handled electronically. Having a monstrous fortress-sized building to do simple banking today is obsolete. In-person banking is now handled at rented facilities such as in a cubicle at Meijers in Jackson with the ATM machine nearby. In fact, the letter implied that we should visit the Airport Road address in Jackson when Albion's bank closes.
Unfortunately, you can't get change for a twenty, or a roll of quarters from your smartphone. Nor can a local Albion merchant deposit or get his/her "daily till" locally (Jackson isn't "local" if the bank is gone. Nor can anyone get "free" local use of the Huntington ATM machine if the bank doesn't have one here anymore. I suspect that as a result, many Albion residents will consider transferring their accounts to the other three financial institutions in town rather than having to drive to Jackson to do their in-person banking. Our nearby communities of Concord, Parma, and Springport have already experienced similar bank closing issues in recent years, so what is happening in Albion is nothing new.
Obviously, there wasn't enough volume of business or loans being made here to justify their continued presence. As a casual observer who noticed who was financing those big reconstruction projects in Albion recently, I noticed that Huntington Bank wasn't one of them. Furthermore, having Superior Street in front of the bank closed for two long summers in a row because of the brick street project sure didn't help things any. Even the pedestrian barriers prevented customers from walking across the street to get to the bank. Finally, having only two dedicated bank parking spaces in back just didn't meet the needs of 21st Century banking.
This historic fortress of a building, erected in 1845, was once the Stone Mill of Jesse Crowell, one of Albion's major pioneer founders. It was reconstructed into the Commercial & Savings Bank which moved here on January 1, 1917. Years later, this was the bank building where I opened my first savings account as a youth, did my checking, and years later, used the ATM. As time went on, I saw the effect the mergers had on our local facility, from the Commercial & Savings Bank into the City Bank & Trust Company (March 1, 1955), into Citizens Bank (July 1, 1997), into First Merit Bank (June 13, 2013) and now to Huntington Bank (February 18, 2017). It's closure on January 8, 2019 will conclude 102 years of banking here. What will the building become next, the Bohm III? (They could show old movies from the vault) A restaurant? The "new Fedco?" Stay tuned.
Whatever the name, the bank will always be remembered by yours truly as City Bank. A major landmark in the center of downtown Albion, they had a local advisory board and were actively involved in the community by sponsoring events such as the Festival of the Forks, bowling teams, and advertising locally. City Bank was also an active member of the Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1962-nighttime photograph of how I remember the bank, with its very popular time-temperature sign out front. This was covered over in 2004. How many of our readers relied on this sign? Our second photograph shows how the bank looks today in its final weeks of operation as Huntington Bank. So farewell bank, by whatever name you may call it. A piece of Albion is about to pass into history, and will be missed by many.
City Bank Sign at night, 1962
Huntington Bank on November 3, 2018
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic