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Chapter 24: The Molalla State Bank Building, 102-104 East Main Street, 1913-1919

By Gail J. McCormick for The Molalla Pioneer

COURTESY PHOTO: GAIL MCCORMICK - The Molalla State Bank Building today anchors the historical four corners of Molalla.  It is one of the main historical buildings in town and is in excellent condition.

The Molalla State Bank building is located at 102-104 East Main Street in Molalla, Oregon. The architecture is the Temple-Front Form of Classical architecture. It is an ancient Greek form of architecture usually characterized by frontal decorative columns. The simpler form of the architecture became popular in the early 1900s, especially for bank buildings located on corner lots. The interior had an oak finish. The contractor, Frank Dodge, built the 1250 square foot building in 1913. The building was constructed of solid concrete. Frank Dodge was a well-known contractor who had built the Carlton & Rosenkrans Building in Canby. The building is one of the main historical buildings in our town, due to its central location and unique architecture.

COURTESY PHOTO: MOLALLA AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY - This is the most well-known photo of the Molalla State Bank.  The occasion would have been in 1914, during the second celebration of the incorporation of Molalla town.  To the left, is the old store that had been Levi Robbin's Store.  In 1914, it was the Molalla Pioneer's office.  After the side stairway to the upstairs was removed, the only access upstairs was up the ladder and through the window.  This building would be the second store building built in Molalla.  Records show it was built in 1870, by Ira Moody, who sold it a year later to A. J. Stubbs.

The Molalla State Bank Building rests on the historic four corners of our town. On this active Indian trail crossing was located the four donation land claims that were the origin of the four corners of the town. The old Molalla Indian trail from Eagle Creek to Silverton passed through the present sites of Estacada, Colton, Molalla and Scotts Mills. From Silverton, it ran south through the Eugene-Springfield area and on to the Klamath Indian's site in Southern Oregon. It eventually became a wagon road that went through the Eugene-Springfield area and on down to Klamath Falls, Oregon. In 1851, before Oregon became a state, the Territorial Legislature designated this route a Territorial Road.

A Molalla State Bank ad in the Morning Enterprise, Anniversary Edition of 1914.  The first notice of a bank to be opened in Molalla was when the Oregon City Enterprise announced on October 13, 1911, that the Molalla State Bank had filed articles of incorporation at Salem, Oregon. Leroy D. Walker, L. W. Robbins and H. A. Dedman were the incorporators. Leroy D. Walker was from the Canby Bank and, somehow, the two banks were affiliated. This was two years before the town incorporated but, evidently, the citizens were ready for a bank in town. The capital stock was $15,000. There were already rumors of a train coming to town so there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the town would grow and the bank would be a success.

The bank opened for business September 1, 1912. It was first located in a rather simple looking wood-frame building which the bank directors were said to have "been compelled to remodel from an old woodshed for temporary quarters". In March of 1913, gravel was being hauled for cement for a new bank building made of concrete. It was to become the first fire-proof building in Molalla. At this time, the bank was carrying $50,000 in deposits. The bank had become a remarkable venture for such a small town. On July 23, 1913, the Morning Enterprise announced "The first cement building in Molalla has just been finished by the Molalla State Bank". The new building opened for business in September of 1913, advertising "Local People, Local Capital". L. W. Robbins was President; John R. Cole was Vice President and F. C. Havemann was cashier. Directors were L. W. Robbins, John R. Cole, F. G. Havemann, J. L. Stubbs, W. W. Everhart, H. A. Dedman, F. A. Rosenkrans, E. H. Carlton and L. D. Walker. The bank was a member of the Oregon State Bankers' Association and the American Bankers' Association.COURTESY PHOTO: MOLALLA AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY - The original Molalla State Bank building was a wood frame building in which the bank directors were said to have "been compelled to remodel from an old woodshed for temporary quarters".  It was in use from September of 1912 to September of 1913.

In 1919, the Molalla State Bank was taken over by the First National Bank. It became the 41st Branch of the First National Bank. Noteworthy is the service of Edward G. Miller, who was cashier for more than 16 years from 1921 to 1938. Under his direction, the bank weathered the depression successfully by "choosing to adhere to the bank's traditional conservatism". In 1937, there was a complete remodeling of the Molalla Branch of the First National Bank. It included modernizing the front entrance by making it flush to the outside edge of the building. A new large vault was placed in the storage room. There were three teller's windows, a note window and a statement window. There was a manager's office and a "good sized lobby space". The work was done by Bryan and Stadler of Portland, Oregon. Today, the bank building is in excellent condition and serves the community as retail and office space.

About the Author

Gail J. McCormick has lived in Mulino for 32 years. She is an award-winning author for her book "Our Proud Past". The book features stories of Oregon Trail pioneers who settled in South Clackamas County. Ms. McCormick was the recipient of First Award in the Oregon Press Women's Communication Contest for Non-Fiction History books published in 1992. The book was also deemed "Recommended reading" by Powell's book Store of Portland, Oregon. It is available at Cutter's Pharmacy, the Main Store, the Marquam Store, the Meadowbrook Store, the Mill Barn Espresso, Union Mill's Feed and the Molalla Area Historical Society. If you have photos or information to share, please contact the author at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 503-632-3640. Your help is appreciated.


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