Citizens State Bank Celebrates a Century of Local Banking
by Carli Hansen
Aug 16, 2013 | 4963 views | 0 0 comments | 270 270 recommendations | email to a friend | print

OURAY – This month, the Citizens State Bank of Ouray is celebrating 100 years of service to the community as one of the area’s long standing financial institutions.

“We want to thank all of our customers for supporting us over the last 100 years and for choosing the Citizens State Bank of Ouray as their hometown community bank,” said Brenda Fox, who became bank president on June 1 after serving the bank for 20 years. Former President Dennis Reece still serves as chairman of the board.

The Grand Centennial Celebration took place at the Ouray branch on Saturday, Aug. 10, where Fox said 130-150 customers attended. Cake and beverages were also served in Ridgway on Aug. 7 and Naturita on Aug. 15, and will be served in at its Silverton branch on Aug. 21.

According to an article written by local historian Doris Gregory on the occasion of the bank’s 75th anniversary, the bank began in July 1913, when some of the most prominent businessmen in the city founded the Home State Bank of Ouray. Eight stockholders were listed, including R. A. Nickell of Montrose, who served as the first president of the board of directors.

In August 1913 they announced that the new bank had changed names from the Home State Bank to the Citizens State Bank. The capitalization was increased from 10,000 to 15,000, with 80 percent of the stock owned and controlled by the people of Ouray and 98 percent owned in Ouray County.

The bank filed a Certificate of Incorporation on Aug. 12, 1913, and opened its doors for business on Aug. 29, 1913. On opening day, the bank ran an advertisement in the local newspaper, the Ouray Herald, which stated that the bank was “owned and officered by local people for the upbuilding of the community…help us thereby helping yourself.”

In the first year, the bank went through several changes in management. In September 1913, Nickell vacated his position and A. E. Walther was unanimously voted president. Then in January 1914, Thomas A. Mostyn became president. Nickell and Walther used their experience to help establish the new bank before withdrawing to focus on their own banks.

The original location of the Citizens State Bank was in the Beaumont Hotel, in a room that had previously served as the Ouray Drug Store. The bank vault can still be seen in the hotel today. But when the five-year lease came to an end, the bank looked to move elsewhere. They decided to purchase a two-story brick office block at 600 Main Street for $6,750. At the time, the building was a saloon owned by Messers, Manion and Beavers. It took a considerable amount of remodelling to turn the saloon into a bank, but the bank is still located there today.

Two attempts to form a local bank had already failed before the Citizens State Bank was established. The Bank of Ouray, incorporated in 1877, closed after just a few years. The First National Bank, incorporated in 1889, closed briefly during the 1893 Silver Crisis. It reopened as the Bank of Ouray, only to declare bankruptcy in 1907.

The only competition when the Citizens State Bank opened was the Miners and Merchants Bank, established in 1877. The banks coexisted until the Citizens State Bank considered purchasing the Miners and Merchants Bank in 1819. However, the Miners and Merchants Bank resisted until it announced its intention to close in May 1922.

For years after that, the Citizens State Bank served as Ouray’s only bank. It survived the Great Depression and came under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in 1933. Harry A. Lowe purchased controlling interest of the bank in 1964, and his wife Margaret became president two years later. 

David Wood assumed the position of bank president in 1970. Wood, affectionately known in the community as Uncle Dave, died last November, and is remembered for his benevolence and love for the community.

“Over the years, the bank has seen slow but steady growth,” Wood reflected 25 years ago in a message for the bank’s 75th anniversary. “If branching is allowed, we plan to expand by this method, rather than becoming a branch of some other bank ourselves.” 

By 1988, the bank began expanding, and today it has branches in Ouray, Ridgway, Naturita and Silverton.

The Citizens State Bank’s long run as Ouray’s only bank came to an end in June 1994, when the First National Bank opened its doors down the street. In January 2006, Alpine Bank acquired First National Bank. Alpine Bank also celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year.

“The two banks have a good relationship,” said Michael Baker, Executive Vice President of Alpine Bank.

Today banking continues to change and evolve with the times. Customers of the Citizens State Bank can look forward to seeing what the next 100 years will bring, said Reece.

“Citizens State Bank has a long history of loyalty and personal service among our many local employees…we will continue to provide the level of customer service that has been our hallmark for the past 100 years.”

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