PITTSBURG — Looking to the future and back into the past.
That’s what the community and current and past employees of Pittsburg banks did on Tuesday at Arvest Bank.
What was to become of the Arvest Bank building on Broadway was also announced.
The bank will be moving to a new location on Rouse in March, but before then they decided to honor the history of banking in Pittsburg.
In April, renovations will begin to turn the current building into the All Aboard Center for Community Development.
“We really appreciate the All Aboard Foundation and what they are going to do for our community and we are so happy we are able to partner with them and turn this building into the All Aboard Center for Community Development,” Community Bank President Jared Turnbull said.
The building was donated in part by Arvest Bank and purchased partly by the All Aboard Foundation, a private organization sponsored by Watco.
“This will be a shared space for nonprofits,” All Aboard Foundation President Brad Snow said. “They can share utilities and expenses to put more of the money into the community.”
Organizations who are interested in occupying the new offices and are 501(c)3 may contact Watco and ask for Brad Snow.
A plaque which reads “The National Bank of Pittsburg Established 1882” hung in the conference room of Arvest Bank for many years was taken down and donated to Pittsburg State University, which plans to put it in a special place in the Block 22 project in honor of the banks of Pittsburg.
“We always love to partner with the community,” PSU Vice President for Advancement Kathleen Flannery said. “We are grateful that Arvest thought of Block 22 as an occasion to celebrate the history of banks in the community.”
The first bank — First Bank — arrived in Pittsburg in the 1880s. Back then it was “only” $50,000 to build a new bank. From then The Bank of America and National Bank of Pittsburg made their presence, Historian Steve Cox said.
The National Bank of Pittsburg was originally on one of the floors of the opera house. Later they moved to a more “modern” building and in 2012 Arvest Bank came along.
Attendees of the celebration were able to take a look at photographs and news clippings of Pittsburg banks from the past because someone — they are uncertain of who or when — put together a special scrapbook, from which the photographs were then enlarged by Miller’s Professional Imaging to be viewed by all.
One woman, Deloris (Viets) Lentz, drove all the way from Oklahoma City for the celebration.
She and her friend Marilyn James used to drive to work to the bank everyday together. The only time they missed a day was because of a flood.
Lentz started working for The National Bank of Pittsburg in 1959 right out of high school, starting as a secretary and retiring at the age of 59 as the Vice President of the Bank of America. Lentz was known for bringing the “big gorilla” to the top of the bank’s building, which welcomed PSU students back. The gorilla was donated to PSU and has since been retired. James started as a bookkeeper and at the end of her career retired as a Senior Consumer Banking Officer.
The day brought them together once more to celebrate their past.