History & Old Photos

Casually posing against the white marble tellers cage at the bank’s third location (sometime after 1925) are from left, John Flynn, Ben Haberer, and Ralph Smyth, grandfather of Jack Smythe.
Not too long ago, Jack Smythe, past President/CEO of State Bank of Park Rapids, was going through some old photos. Looking at them, he recalls that the five generations the bank has operated as a family business, it has spanned most of Park Rapids history. In fact, the bank has the honor of being the oldest family business in Park Rapids.
State Bank’s second location, 1915-1923, was on the corner of Main Ave and 3rd Street is still standing today. “The brick used in the construction came from the Great Northern Brick Company located on the northeast side of Fish Hook Lake,” Jack Smythe notes. “Records indicate the bid for construction was $5,719.34 on June 2, 1915.”
The third location, 1924-1978, was on the corner of Main Ave 2nd Street. “Just below the roof line the words ‘Farmers State Bank’ is etched into the concrete,” Smythe observes. “Farmers State Bank, the original builder, failed. State Bank of Park Rapids bought the building June 7, 1924, for $6,000.”
In the 1930’s marble was often used for the interior of bank buildings. This building was no exception. Caged teller windows were also common. They were used to help protect tellers from bank robbers.
“I can still remember as a small child visiting the bank and being shown three guns,” Smythe recalls. “Even in the 1940’s, a bank robbery was a concern of rural bankers. It was a problem in the 1920’s and early 1930’s and was still a concern in the 1940’s. The guns were hidden in desks in the event of a robbery. State Bank of Park Rapids was never robbed; the guns never used. However, bank officers were trained to defend themselves and the money of the bank’s depositors.”
Operation of a bank was much different than today. “As an example, all bookkeeping was done by hand, using ink and blotter,” Smythe says. Computers and calculators have replaced electric and manual adding machines. Our first manual adding machine was purchased from Burroughs Adding Machine Company in 1908 for $300.” Some things in banking haven’t changed though. Jack Smythe maintains that “Banking still remains a business of public trust and loan officers still make decisions that affect people’s lives based on common sense and good judgment.”