Weekly Update

Happy Saturday! It is a glorious morning here in Easton, lots of sun and comfortable temperatures too, making it one of those rare, perfect New England summer days.

One of my projects for the Society during this pandemic is scanning postcards, and among the many taken of popular buildings or locations there are a few rarities. I am pleased to share one of those rarities this week.

The First National Bank of Easton was organized in March, 1864, and opened for business on July 1, 1864. Located on the second floor of the Ames Company Office on Main Street, just south of the present site of Unity Close at 23 Main Street (formerly the Company Counting House), it shared quarters with a second bank, the North Easton Savings Bank which was opened in October 1864. In a matter of months, Easton went from having no bank to two banks - and those located in the same building, on the same floor, separated by only an iron screen!

The First National Bank had the following officers at its opening: President, John Swain; Cashier, Pardon Gifford; Directors Oliver Ames, Reuben Meader, John Swain, E. W. Gilmore, Oakes Angier Ames, and Frederick Lothrop Ames. An initial investment of $100,000 was tripled to $300,000 in capital stock during 1864, a sign of the success that the bank enjoyed. William Chaffin notes that at the time he wrote his History of Easton (August, 1886) Pardon Gifford remained as Cashier. He was also the treasurer for the neighboring North Easton Savings Bank!

When the North Easton Savings Bank moved into new quarters in 1904, the First National Bank expanded to use the entire second floor, and in the spring of 1929, the bank finally moved into the vacant first floor. They remained there until a new structure was built at 229 Main Street in 1951. The new building featured a modern vault with safe deposit boxes, and a drive up window! The former Ames Company Office was finally torn down shortly after the bank moved out. The First National Bank went through a series of mergers beginning in the 1950's, becoming at different times the First Machinists National Bank of Taunton, United National Bank, and I believe finally became a branch of Bay Bank.

The photo attached here is taken about 1910-1915, and shows the brick building that was a landmark since its original construction around the 1820's (it was originally half the size of the building here, and was enlarged in the late 1850's or early 1860's). Workers in the office, and later the banks, enjoyed grapes from a hearty vine that grew along the back of the building and could actually fish without leaving the building, thanks to a brook that ran underneath the lobby. The building was also the site of a robbery in the 1930's. Note the bicycles parked by the front door. The rear part of the house on the right in the photo was part of the original Oliver Ames house built in 1813. At one time, an ell attached the house to the counting office for the company.

One other item of note: at the Museum there are two old wooden tables that have our sales items on them. One is from the First National Bank, the other from the North Easton Savings Bank, and both were once used in that second floor location when these banks were in their infancy!

Stay well, and until next time,

Frank

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