City Bank Saw
Kent’s Good, Bad Times
City Bank in 1956
s recently as 1979, the City Bank occupied a place of prominence near the main square, near Thompson's Drug Store. A time-honored institution, it had been founded in 1881. D. L. Rockwell, Sr.,
an attorney, was the prime mover behind its establishment and served as its first president.
Born of the times in which it was conceived,
it is little short of miraculous that City Bank was able to flourish. In 1881, there were no paved streets or electricity in the neighborhood. Twenty-three saloons dotted the city, and gaslights provided llumination after dark.
There were no typewriters or even loose-leaf ledgers, and customers paid with "the coin of the realm." Checks were an oddity. Contrast this with the computers and ATMs of today!
City Bank's initial location was the northwest corner of Main & Water streets. Then, from 1885-1911, it occupied a space where the post office had been. In 1911, the bank moved to the location where it lived out its years.
On the occasion of the bank's 50th anniversary—in June of 1931—then president M. G. Garrison (an officer since founding) viewed depressions as simply cyclical events that must be endured. The Great Depression of the thirties, he pointed out, would be the eighth economic downturn the institution had weathered.
Resources in 1931 amounted to $1,701,281.94. The institution was able to survive by grass-roots customer service and fair dealing. Children, especially, were fond of the little metal "barrel banks" which have become sought-after collectibles. They would deposit their coins in these banks, later depositing the money at City, thus becoming indoctrinated in
the "savings habit."
ity Bank was blessed with astute leadership over the years. Other early leaders were B. J. Williard, H. H. Line, Emmett F. Garrison, and Henry Horning. Judge David Ladd Rockwell served as vice president for many years.
Finally, in 1979, when the dynamic changes in the banking industry began to catch up with City, David Green was president. That year, CleveTrust, a holding company, took control of the bank, foreshadowing a series of transactions.
Engraving used in newspaper advertising in the 1920s.
CleveTrust eventually gave way to AmeriTrust, which became Society Bank, which at this writing is KeyBank. When City became AmeriTrust, Jack Worthem and Lee Knicely were at the helm.
City Bank's large, exterior clock had provided Kentites with the time for nearly a century, but by 1979, time had caught up with City Bank. The institution had done its job, and done it well.
Today, City Bank Antiques occupies the spot, keeping the name alive.