1884 - 2009... 125 Years of Banking
The First National Bank of Holdrege began as Farmers & Merchants Bank in now-extinct town of Phelps Center, which was about five miles north and west of Holdrege. The bank was founded by R.T. McGrew, P.O. Hedlund and A.L. Clarke, men also responsible in part for founding Phelps County.
When the railroad decided not to go through either Phelps Center or Sacramento, but instead to found a new town halfway in between, the Farmers & Merchants Bank — in the form of a twenty by forty foot wood framed building — was moved to the present corner location in Holdrege. It was one of the first businesses in the new town.
On April 1, 1884, the bank was re-chartered from a state bank to a national bank and renamed the First National Bank of Holdrege. Controlling interest of the bank was purchased by L.J. Titus and George W. Updike in 1890, and in 1893, L.J. Titus purchased Updike’s remaining interest and moved to Holdrege.
Today, the First National Bank of Holdrege still remains under the active direction of the Titus family. Currently serving are Eric J. Titus, Senior Vice President/Chairman of the Board, L. Ted Titus, Senior Vice President/ Board of Directors and Paula A. Titus, Public Relations Officer.
History of the First National Bank Building
In October of 1883, the first buildings and businesses moved to Holdrege from Phelps Center. One of the first to locate in the new town was a small wooden building that was roughly 15’ X 24’ in size. It was moved from Phelps Center using a horse team by R. T. McGrew, who owned the Farmers & Merchants Bank in Phelps Center. It was placed at what would become the corner of Hayden and East Avenues, which today it is known as Fourth and East Avenues. The southeast corner of the original building was located very near where the southeast corner of the current building stands today.
They opened the bank for business in October of 1883. After the first days business the four employees added up the fees from the day’s work, which amounted to 65 cents. Those were the humble beginnings of the first bank in Holdrege.
The bank officially became The First National Bank of Holdrege after receiving a National Bank Charter from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in 1884. It continues operating today from the same corner.
First National Bank quickly outgrew the original building and in 1886, when a new building was completed, the old wooden bank building was sold. A. G. Peterson purchased the building for $270.00 and moved it a half block east along 4th Avenue where he operated a cobblers shop from it for 45 years. The little wooden building was torn down in April of 1931 to make room for the construction of a six story structure that is now the Hotel Dale.
1886 - 1936
In 1886, the bank contracted with G. W. Hammond to build a two story 25’ X 70’ brick building. The building was completed for an approximate sum of $12,000 and stood out as the first brick edifice erected in the business district. It was an ornate exterior which featured a distinctive corner entrance. This is the building which was the scene of an armed bank robbery in 1934. The original footprint of this structure still remains, 123 years later, in the current bank building. It is the area which is now the loan platform and vault, and the basement area most recently was used as the data center for the bank.
1936 - 1953
An extensive remodeling project for the bank took place in 1936. The second floor was removed, the ceilings on the main floor were raised, the crows nest was added (which held an armed guard), the interior was refurbished, and the exterior was redone in modern sandstone and brick. The building became a state-of-the-art banking facility for its time.
1953 - 1959
In 1953 the bank expanded again, doubling its main floor size with a 25’ X 70’ addition to the north. The main entrance was moved, the teller area was moved to the north end of the addition, and conference rooms were added at that time.
1959 - 1967
In 1959, the bank added a 25’ X 140’ addition, which included the first “Drive-Through” window, a tunnel which ran east to west through the building, leading to an enclosed drive-up window. The entrance to this tunnel was where the sliding double front doors are located in the current building. In addition, a community room was added and the exterior of the bank was remodeled.
1967 - 1975
In 1967 the bank completely modernized the interior of the building, and expanded the bookkeeping department in the basement. All new lighting and fixtures along with expanded officer areas were a part of the remodeling project.
1975 - 1983
In 1975, a new 50’ X 140’ addition was completed to the north of the building. This moved the entrance to its current location, and added the three-lane drive through that is still utilized today. Other additions included the computer room, the expanded community room, the teller lobby, the front reception area, all new interior decorations and a new computerized message sign on the exterior of the building.
1983 - 1997
In 1983, the building to the west of the main building was incorporated into the bank and offices were added to the structure. The interior was completely redone with new carpet, wall coverings, paint and furniture. The highlight of the remodeling was the unveiling of the 30’ X 4’ sculpture behind the teller line created by Holdrege native Jane Wilson.
1997 - 2009
In 1997, the bank again expanded to the west adding eight offices and a new board room. The main lobby was refurbished with carpeting, wall coverings, and office cubicles and a new remote branch drive-in facility was opened on north Burlington. In 1999, the Investment Center offices were moved to the northeast corner of the building with an exclusive entrance. In 2004 the computerized message board on the main bank was upgraded, and a computerized message center was added to the north auto bank.