Research project on architecture of banks in early 20th century Lancaster: Week 1

My most important goal for this week was to establish the sample and determine the scope of my research. I planned to identify all the banks that operated in Lancaster at the turn of the century and also to explore which of these actually still exist and which don’t. I was hoping that this would help me determine the sample of my research, identify the bank buildings I will focus on in my research and find those that I can visit and examine in person during my research.

I began with my research at F&M Archives and Special Collections where I examined Lancaster City Directories for 1905-1906. These old books that are in possession of Franklin and Marshall College were in their time something of a modern-day phone books or yellow pages. Exploration of such resource allowed me to identify 11 banks that were registered for business in Lancaster in the 1905 and 1906. The nice thing with the City Directories is that it gives detailed information about the businesses that were advertised in it. I collected addresses and some other relevant information about these 11 banks that I might find useful for my further research. With the information of each bank’s address I was able to look at 1912 Sanborn maps and locate the banks in them. Here is the complete list of those 11 banks:

Conestoga National Bank – Incorporated, 1889. Capital. $200.000; Surplus and Undivided Profits, $254,010,32. Roland H. Brubaker, Pres.; Albert K. Hostetter, Cashr. 28 Penn sq.

Farmers’ Trust Co. of Lancaster, Pa. –  Incorporated, March 25. 1904. Capital, $225,000. John W. B. Bausman, Pres.; S. M. Seldomridge, Vice Pres.’ Charles A. Fon Dersmith, Treas. 52 E. King.

First National Bank of Lancaster, Pa. – Incorporated, 1864. Capital, $210,000. Surplus and Undivided Profits, $182,126.75. N. Milton Woods, Pres.; Henry C. Harner, Cashr. 11 E. King

Fulton National Bank, The – Incorporated, 1882. Capital, $200,000. Surplus and Undivided Profits, $130,000. John D. Skiles, Pres.; John C. Carter, Cashr. 11 North Queen.

Lancaster County National Bank – Founded, 1841. Capital, $300,000. Franklin H. Breneman, Pres.; David C. Kready, Vice Pres.; A. Sauber, Cashr. 23 E. King

Lancaster Trust Co. – Incorporated, 1889. Capital, $250,000. Surplus and Undivided Profits, $550,000. John Hertzler, Pres.; S. M. Myers, Vice Pres.; J. T. Breneman, Treas.; Herbert C. Miller, Asst. Treas.; John S. Graybill, Real Estate Officer.; Hon. W. U. Hensel, Solicitor. 36-38 N. Queen

Northern National Bank of Lancaster, Pa. – Incorporated, 1889. Capital, $125,000. J. Fred. Sener, Pres.; Elam J. Ryder, Cashr. 138 N. Queen.

Northern Trust and Savings Co. – Incorporated, 1901. Capital. $125.000. J. Fred. Sener, Pres.; Elam J. Ryder, Treas. 138 N. Queen.

People’s National Bank of Lancaster, Pa. – Incorporated, 1887. Capital, $200,000. P. Eckert Slaymaker, Pres.; Dubois Rohrer, Cashr. 113-115 E. King.

Peoples Trust Co., of Lancaster, Pa. – Incorporated, 1892. Capital, $250,000. Surplus and Undivided Profits, $246,296.27. P. Eckert Slaymaker, Pres.; Isaac W. Leidigh, Vice Pres.; J. Chester Jackson, Sec. and Treas. 113-115 E. King.

Union Trust Co. The – Incorporated, March 17. 1902. Capital $150,000. Undivided Profits, $65,000. W. Wohlsen, Pres.; Jacob M. Martin, Sec. and Treas.; John M. Groff, Solicitor; W.S. Taylor, Mngr. Bond Dept. 26 E. King.

Then I made a visit to Lancaster Historical Society to look for original old photos of all these banks and also to examine the Banks of Lancaster County Collection that I listed as one of my primary sources. As for the photos, I found elevation images of all the banks on my list, except for the First National Bank of Lancaster. I have also found photos that are showing interiors of some of these banks. I believe that these photos will be of great use to me in my attempt to analyze the banking experience of a Lancaster client in early 1900s. To really understand the relationship of a client and a bank and the whole banking experience, we need to look inside the bank buildings and these old photos actually allow us to do that. I scanned all the photos I could find and now I posses digital database with about 20 photos of various elevations and interiors of the banks in my sample. Here are some of those photos:

Historical Society’s Banks of Lancaster County Collection was quite a disappointment because it included very few materials that are relevant for my research and disappointingly little information about banks in Lancaster in general. For some reason, the greatest portion of the collection was devoted to Woolworth Retail Store. Within the collection what I found most useful for my research were anniversary booklets of 3 major banks from my sample:

The Lancaster County National Bank: 95 years of Service to the Community 1841-1936

 Conestoga National Bank: Fifty Years of Progress 1889-1939

 100 Years of Fulton Banking 1882-1982

These included interesting information about the history and business affairs of these banks and maybe more importantly – some nice photos that are now in my digital collection.

Finally, I went for a walk down the East King and North Queen Streets, where all the banks in my sample used to have their buildings. For some addresses that I couldn’t find on site I used Google Earth street view. I say “used to have” their buildings, because unfortunately most of them seem not to be there anymore. To be precise, only Farmers’ Trust Company original building is still on 52 East King and it is occupied by Morgan Stanley global financial services firm. Most of the Lancaster Trust Company building is also well preserved but the building is currently looking for a new owner, after unsuccessful episode with the most recent occupant – Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum that went out of business. Union Trust Company building survived, but it is severely damaged and is currently undergoing restoration. In place of the Conestoga National Bank, there is now a Citizen Bank and in place of an old Fulton National Bank building – a modern building of the same bank. Other bank buildings from my 1905-1906 list have been demolished and do not exist anymore. For this reason I have decided for next week to try to extend my list of banks to those that existed in Lancaster in 1929 (just before the Great Depression). I hope that this will bring up some new banks that still exist so that I will have more banks to visit and explore from first hand experience. If this doesn’t bring any significant results, I will focus my research on 3 banks: Farmers’ Trust Company of Lancaster, Lancaster Trust Company and The Fulton National Bank.



  1. Randolph Carney Says:

    The Fulton Bank building still stands, with its fossiliferous limestone facade now covered with modern brick.

    The Farmers Bank and Trust Company building still stands at Duke and King. In fact, it is currently for sale.

  2. Randolph Carney Says:

    BTW, the Conestoga National Bank building burned down in the late 1960s. There are photographs in the train museum on the second floor of the building which replaced it.

  3. Donald Blyler, III Says:

    Greetings! I’m interested in the Farmers Trust Company building – in one of your blogs you noted you had scanned several images of the interiors of several Lancaster City banks. I’m most interested in any images of the interior of the Farmers Trust .. 46 East King Street. (corner of Duke & King Sts). Anything you can send me would be GREATLY appreciated.

    Much Thanks!

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