This beautiful old building was constructed 135 years ago by the then First National Bank and John S. Hough. The original cut-stone building and all its furnishings cost a total of $22,000.00. The historic building features beautiful stone arches and French plate glass panels. It is the classic example of a strong safe building that you would feel secure in placing your life savings. The bank had its ups and downs along with the fortunes of Lake City and it finally closed its doors in 1914.
The story told by local historians is that the president of the bank kept a human skull on his desk for many years. It was thought by many to be the skull of one of the victims of Alferd Packer since it was found in the area where the grizzly killings occurred. The skull disappeared along with the president of the bank when he left town with most of the bank’s money.
In 1988 when Dr. Starrs came to Lake City and removed the Packer victims from their shallow grave only four skulls were found and five bodies. The fifth skull was never found and one victim was reburied without his skull. The story of the skull on the banker’s desk was proven very likely to be true.
After the bank closed in 1914 the beautiful old building fell into disrepair and had many uses that were far below the dignified status of the stately old structure. It was the local post office, an ice cream parlor, silent movie theater, a liquor store, a restaurant, cocktail lounge and dance floor.
In 1983 a group of Lake City businessmen reopened the Grand old building as The First National Bank of Lake City. In 1983 our nation was in the middle of a serious depression and banks all over the country were closing daily. Here in a little isolated community of 300 people deep in the Colorado Rockies were a group of businessmen with the foresight, guts and faith in their community to open a new bank. It attracted national attention and NBC and the TODAY SHOW came to Lake City for the Grand Opening. It was planned to be a glorious affair and the first deposit was to be brought in by horse drawn buckboard with an armed guard just as the mine payrolls were delivered in the old days.
A group of locals decided the night before the opening to add to the excitement by coming in on horseback and robbing the mine payroll. In those days it was not unusual to see a saddled horse or mule tied in front of the local bar. As you might guess these plans were being made over drinks in the local bar. As you also might expect this group stayed too long in the bar and did not get up in time the next morning to carry out the planned holdup.
The opening of the bank the following morning was a great success and Lake City received much needed positive publicity and the national attention had a lasting effect on our little town. The bank operated very successfully for many years as the First National Bank of Lake City. A few years ago the bank was sold to a group who operate small banks in small towns very successfully. They changed the name to the Miners and Merchants Bank.
The successful operation continues to this day and today if you visit this little bank you will be absolutely amazed at the beautiful interior and you will feel you have stepped back in time. The only connection with today’s world is the modern up to date computers sitting on people’s desk and at the teller stations.
Visit Lake City and take a walk thru history by visiting our little bank.