Montpelier Historic Downtown Walking Tour
Bank of Montpelier's Impact on Local Banking History
Residents of Bear Lake county have discussed the Butch Cassidy bank robbery for years with varied endings. Not unlike fishermen's boastings, tales of the exact amount of Butch's loot will be haggled over for years. Besides Butch's notorious Montpelier heist, it is interesting to note the other contributions that the "Bank of Montpelier" lent to the Bear Lake history. "The Bank of Montpelier" was established a centennial ago in April 1891 with G.C. Gray. The bank received the first Idaho state charter and opened doors in the building that Mountain Litho presently occupies.
The bank moved west and across Washington Street and built a brick building in the early 1900's. Severe financial problems arose in the 1920's which closed its doors, forcing the need for immediate alternative banking. After many months and several meetings, the Eccles-Browning Bank based in Ogden, Utah opened for business at the same brick building in August 1925.
Eccles-Browning Bank later changed its name to Find Security Bank of Montpelier. The new bank continued to use the first charter of the state of Idaho throughout the 1930's until the First Security Banking system received a national charter. When First Security Bank vacated the February 1963. Tri-State Bank & Trust began banking operations in the building until it merged with Zions Bank in 1997.
Although Butch probably will be best known for making the "Bank of Montpelier" notable, Montpelier's first bank continues to have a profound impact on Bear Lake's banking history.
Research and photographs from 1908 show the old Y.M.C.A. building that was built by Edward Burgoyne in 1889. John Newton Downing purchased the building from Edward Burgoyne in 1901. Mr. Downing remodeled it and named it the Burgoyne Hotel. He operated it for years. By 1916, it was moved around the corner and a red brick building was built in its place.
Downing joined this new red brick building to the adjacent gray stone building, added a lobby, and the two buildings became the new Burgoyne Hotel. The new hotel was beautiful and efficiently run. After Downing died, his grandson Paul Newton Richardson ran the hotel. In the late 1950's the hotel was purchased by Cliff Jewell and J. Rodney Ream. They modernized the hotel and built several apartments in it. It operated primarily as a hotel for railroaders. Most nights, its 88 rooms were all filled.
The Burgoyne Cafe was a part of the original Burgoyne Hotel, built in 1915. Jim McKee was one of the early owners and the cafe was highly patronized by railroad men and was also a favorite of local residents. One of the famous events that occurred in the cafe happened on February 4, 1922.
Gustafas Thanos and his partner attempted a payroll robbery at the coal miners in Oakley. Wyoming. The robbers escaped and spent the night at the Burgoyne Hotel in room #26. The next morning as the robbers sat down for breakfast in the Burgoyne Cafe, police chief John Hillier tried to arrest them. Thanos, in the ensuing gun battle emptied his gun. Both bandits were shot and killed resisting arrest.
The Burgoyne Pharmacy was part of the Burgoyne Hotel complex. The complex included the pharmacy, the hotel and the café.Inside the hotel lobby, doors opened to the Burgoyne Pharmacy in the west wing and the Burgoyne Café in the east wing. Paul and Louise Adams were one of the early owners of the pharmacy. Their son, Fred Adams, founded the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City. Utah.
The pharmacy was famous for its soda fountain. The soda fountain counter was a meeting place for well-dressed ladies of the time. Those same ladies frequented the jewelry store next door. Many of the old timers in the community bought their wedding rings there. They knew it as the Kammerath Jewelry Store.