Authored By Mike Maggin
In 1915, the United States had 7,598 National Banks and 18,227 State Banks (FDIC.Gov 2014). One of the banks that opened that year was the Citizens Bank of Monroe located in Monroe NY. Though the building is no longer in use the bank is still talked about and remembered for its great customer service, it’s giant vault, and the ability to survive the run on banks in the 1930s. Many banks did not survive the banking panics that began in October of 1930 and lasted until Roosevelts national banking holiday in 1933 (Bordo and Landon-Lane 2010, 487). During this time over 8,000 commercial banks were part of the Federal Reserve System, but nearly 16,000 were not members, including the Citizens Bank of Monroe (Richardson 2013).
The Citizens Bank of Monroe was founded in a time before online banking, atm’s and computers were even thought about. Nowadays electronic banking and paying bills via an app have become common place for millions of people, however people are still looking for a place to keep their money safe and accessible (Armstrong 2017). For over 50 years people trusted the Citizens Bank of Monroe to keep their money safe. One reason for this was that the bank had one of the largest vaults in the area.
Throughout the years people had lost trust in banks. In the early 20’s people would regularly here about bankers steeling money to play the stock market. One such situation that made the news was a bank manager named Andrew Horvett from Binghamton NY who stole 2.5 million in bank funds (Smith and Basler 2014). With the roaring 20s, the depression of the 1930’s and World War 2 in the 40’s the Citizens Bank of Monroe was able to survive and keep the trust of the people. In fact, they did so well that in 1965 they had a large fiftieth anniversary party to celebrate their continued growth and success.
Though they are not still open today and many of the secondary branches were bought out by other banks the Citizens Bank of Monroe was looked at as a safe place to put your money and a friendly customer environment. Similar to St. John’s University’s Vincentian perspective (St. John’s University 2019) the Citizen’s Bank of Monroe provided all people a place where they could feel comfortable putting their hard-earned money. They never discriminated in their clientele or their employees. The fact that people still speak highly of this bank though no longer open shows its importance to the Monroe community of yesterday and the importance that banks had overall. Today, photographs and unpublished information on the Citizens Bank of Monroe are housed in the collection of Town of Monroe Historian James Nelson
Armstrong, Tony. 2017. “A History of Banking, From Free Toasters to Chatbots.” NerdWallet. February 9, 2017. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/checking/history-of-bank-accounts/.
Basler, George, and Gerald Smith. 2014. “How a 1920s First Ward Banker Cheated Thousands.” Press Connects, November 16, 2014. https://www.pressconnects.com/story/news/connections/history/2014/11/16/s-first-ward-banker-cheated-thousands/19130731/.
Bordo, Michael, and John Landon-Lane. 2010. “The Banking Panics in the United States in the 1930s: Some Lessons for Today.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 26 (3): 486–509. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/grq027.
“FDIC: Historical Timeline.” January 2, 2014. https://www.fdic.gov/about/history/timeline/1920s.html.
St. John’s University. 2019 “Our Mission.” https://www.stjohns.edu/about/history-and-facts/our-mission.
Richardson, Gary. 2013. “Banking Panics of 1930-31.” Federal Reserve History, November 22, 2013.