I have not yet decided how many parts to this history of the Bank Building there will be, but don’t let that worry you! We left off discussing the outside of this historic building. Now let’s talk about the inside. Again, thank you to the Mills Group and the dedicated individuals who researched and recorded the history of this building.
The first occupant of 303 First Street was its namesake, the Tucker County Bank. The bank, which formally moved into the building in 1905, served the rapidly expanding population of Parsons right at the beginning of the 20th century. The other occupants of the building at its start were the Freemasons (whose lodge was located in the third floor), and the pharmacy run by JW Kogelshatz. Kogelshatz was one in a long line of druggists in the Walnut Street storefront. In fact, except for a brief run by the Parsons Clothing Company around 1909 (where one could buy everything from bath robes to smoking jackets), the Walnut Street storefront remained a drugstore: from Kogelshatz to FS Johnston to Rodney A Barb. Not only a popular hang-out because of the soda fountain (purchased in 1917 and a steady fixture in the building for many decades), the drug stores throughout the years sold bus tickets and was a center of advertising for various town businesses and organizations.
The other offices in the Bank Building have a more varied history. The first half of the 20th century saw two dentists, Dr. OA Miller and his father in law Dr. BM West, occupy the second floor as well as an insurance agent and the Duncan Telephone company. The second floor was also home to Judge Valentine (a former attorney whose name still adorns one of the upper windows) and the Tucker County Board of Education, which probably moved into its office in the late 1930s.
The third story of the Bank Building was designed with one purpose: a place for the Freemasons to gather and meet. The open floor plan of the top story made it the ideal meeting place and temple for the Masons over the years. In fact, it was as recently as 2002 that this floor was used for its original purpose.
All of these different people, companies, and dates. This building was obviously a centerpiece to the city of Parsons. People visited the building to save money, get a soda, get their teeth cleaned, by a sweater, hire a lawyer, and more! One simply cannot think of Parsons without the image of the Tucker County Bank Building coming to mind.
That’s enough for part 2. Part three will have pictures, I promise. Stay warm in this frigid weather!