The Benton County State Bank building was dedicated on July 25, 1907. The bank, built on the ruins of a burned saloon, was representative of a period of growth and prosperity in Corvallis at the beginning of the 20th century.
Corvallis' population grew from 1,817 in 1900 to 4,552 in 1910. Automobiles appeared in town, there was a housing boom tied to growth at the college, and the Willamette River — which had played a prominent role in the community in the 19th century — was no longer as important.
Citizens organized to improve and promote the town, creating the Village Improvement Society, the Civic Improvement Committee, the Benton County Citizens' League and the Commercial Club.
The Commercial Club promoted local paving projects, a cannery, sewer improvements and a gravity flow water system. Banker Archie J. Johnson, founder and president of the Benton County State Bank, was president of the Commercial Club for two years.
The Commercial Club advertised the benefits of Corvallis (which had become a "dry" town by local law in 1905) in this description of the town:
Prosperity and Progress are in the atmosphere, and are the marked characteristic of this rapidly developing community, while its prestige as an educational center lends indefinable charm in people and in
manners which is indissolubly linked with a university town. The moral tone of the community is accentuated by the entire absence of saloons in Corvallis.
This enthusiasm and appreciation of the college coincided with the 1907 arrival of a new president at Oregon Agricultural College (now OSU). William Jasper Kerr, age 34, fostered the college's next 25 years of dramatic growth. During his tenure, the value of college facilities increased by 33 times, and enrollment rose from 740 in 1908 to 3,490 in 1929.
The First National Bank of Portland purchased the Benton County State Bank in 1946, and it became the First Corvallis Bank. Later it became the Corvallis Branch of the First National Bank of Oregon, and moved to Third and Monroe in 1957.
In late 1957, Citizens Bank, a new local bank, moved into this building, using the lot at First and Madison for drive-through customer banking. After Citizens Bank relocated to Third and Jefferson in 1975, this building was used as the Night Deposit restaurant, and later as offices for Lucidyne Technologies.
Earlier occupants of the building included: attorneys and physicians in the second-floor offices; various businesses in the storefronts on Second Street and Madison Avenue; and, in the basement, a barber shop and Turkish baths.
Corvallis Banks, 1886-1962
Hamilton and Zephin Job established the first bank in Corvallis in 1886, the Hamilton and Job Bank, located on the southwest corner of Second and Madison (diagonally from the Benton County State Bank building). The bank failed in 1893, due to the nationwide financial panic and the bank's substantial investment in the troubled Oregon Pacific Railroad.
M.S. Woodcock, a general store operator in Monroe, established the second bank in 1887. His Benton County Bank was located at the southwest corner of Second and Jefferson, across from today's Post Office. This bank later moved into Hamilton and Job's Second and Madison location and was renamed the First National Bank of Corvallis.
In 1887, Mr. Leese and Mr. Scarth established the Willamette Valley Bank, with offices in the hotel at Second and Monroe.
Next was Archie J. Johnson's Benton County National Bank incorporated in 1905. In 1916, the name was changed to Benton County State Bank.
In 1913, Thomas Whitehorn, Victor Moses and A.A. Schramm formed the Corvallis State Bank. with offices at the southwest corner of Second and Monroe.
The Corvallis State Bank was purchased by Woodcock's First National Bank of Corvallis in 1930. M.S. Woodcock continued his involvement in the First National Bank of Corvallis until 1940, when his bank was purchased by the United States National Bank
Johnson's Benton County State Bank remained the only independent bank in Corvallis until 1946, when it was purchased by the First National Bank of Portland. The Benton County State Bank changed its name to First Corvallis Bank in 1950, and moved to a new building at Third and Monroe in 1957.
In late 1957, local investors formed Citizens Bank, and moved into this 1907 Benton County State Bank building.
In 1962, the United States National Bank moved to a new building at Fourth and Monroe, and its old location was remodeled in 1964 for the Clothes Tree.
Electric Massage, compressed air and Turkish baths...
The Benton County Bank shared the building with a variety of tenants, including a barber shop and Turkish baths located in the basement. This advertisement from the January 17, 1912, edition of the OAC Barometer promotes the Central Barber Shop's latest technology-electric massage and compressed air. Barbers used compressed air to remove hair after the haircut.
The electric scalp massage felt good after a haircut, and some thought it would treat baldness.
Sharing the basement with the barber shop were Victorian Turkish baths, a popular experience borrowed from Great Britain. Bathers sweated freely in a room heated by a flow of hot, dry air. A cold plunge was followed by a full body massage, and finally a period of relaxation in a cooling room. These baths were the only ones of their kind in Corvallis.