bank bag
The inspiration for our research.

We recently received some awesome items donated by the Burt family (one of our pioneer families). One of the donated items was this cloth bank deposit bag with drawstring closure. It really peaked my interest in the bank. As I began looking into this bank, I came across another one, and then another one. So I set out on a journey of research. I hope this helps paint a picture of what banking was like 100+ years ago.

Redford had three banks in the early 1900s, all with a similar name, size, and exterior features, and within a block of each other – basically a bank on every corner. This area was annexed by the City of Detroit in 1926 and is now referred to as “Old Redford”. It may not be located in Redford anymore, but we love it just the same!

In case you missed part 1 of this 3-part series, check it out here.

Peoples State Bank of Redford

peoples state savings bank2
Photo courtesy of Reuther Library

In 1914, construction began on The Peoples State Bank of Redford. It closed in 1931, undoubtedly a victim of The Great Depression. Sometime in the 1930s Stein’s Department Store moved in. The building still stands today, located at 22000 Grand River Avenue (northwest corner of Grand River & Lahser), but has been vacant for some time. A few years ago there were talks about losing the structure to demolition because of the amount of deterioration that neglect had caused. But we’re excited to share that it has recently been purchased and crews are currently working to clean out the building. During one of the work days, John George – Founder & President of Motor City Blight Busters, found a bank vault in the basement. Jackpot! He was gracious enough to show me around the building so I could capture some ‘before’ pictures.

Peoples Bank exterior
The exterior view today. I really miss the awnings!
Peoples Bank interior-1
Gorgeous bank vault – notice the name of the bank above the door. This room is also filled with pieces of wood. At one time Grand River Ave was called Plank Road, named for the oak planks (8 inches by 4 inches and 10ft long) that covered the road. Is it possible that these are the old wood planks from Grand River Ave before it was paved???

It’ll be a long road for renovations – a collapsed staircase/roof at the rear of the building seems to have caused the majority of the damage. The water damage alone is enough to scare most people from taking on this kind of project. While exploring the smaller rooms at the back of the building, I could close my eyes and actually feel like I was in a cave. It’s dark (with the exception of the “skylights”), dingy, stinky, and wet. I followed the sound of dripping water from room to room – An odd thing to hear since it hadn’t rained in weeks.

This building seems like a far cry from any kind of bank resemblance. The outside is boarded up (even the windows are covered), the inside walls have either been covered with wood paneling or drywall, the main first floor space has been divided into several large rooms, and the ceiling is much too low for being a 2-story bank at one time. I searched and searched for original features. With such a prominent front entrance during its prime, I scoured the area. I knew there had to be SOMETHING there. Flashlight in hand, I was finally able to spot pieces of history through a small opening in the ceiling: thick plaster crown molding, brick, and a column. In the foyer of the side entrance is a lonely, but beautiful, light fixture just begging to light up the space. When demolition begins on the inside, I have a feeling jaws will be dropping. And although the owner’s only goal right now is to get it ready for occupancy, it will surely be an amazing space!

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Check out these parade photos from one of my family’s albums, showing a large building being constructed in the background. If you look close enough, you can see a sign that says “New Home Peoples State Bank Redford”. We even get a taste of a few of the parade participants with vehicle advertisements like “Queen Quality Shoes, The Hinkle Co.” and “Roy H. Burgess, Agent”. One of the photos also shows a great view of The Hawthorne House, which sat directly across Lahser Rd from the bank. It was destroyed by fire in mid-1914. Notice that all parade watchers are in their Sunday best.

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Redford Parade 1
This undated photo shows a banner spanning across Grand River Ave that reads “CARNIVAL”. Peoples State Bank of Redford is visible in the background. Also notice the business sign on the left – Mr. Northrop not only had a funeral home, but sold furniture as well. Quite the combination.

 

Steins Dept Store
This photo shows the view down Lahser Rd, looking north. Stein’s Department Store is occupying the Peoples State Bank of Redford building. You can also see the Redford Theatre and various other retailers like Meyer Drugs/Foxall Drugs and Dorothy’s Beauty Shop.

Peoples State Bank of Redford Advertisements

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Peoples Bank construction article

In 1915 the co-partners of the bank were: Lewis N. Tupper (Presidemt), Herman Bonninghausen, Frank M. David, George C. Burgess, Vincent Stuckey, John Paulger, Emma Coleman, Paul A. Westhoff, Edward F. Monier, James Hamer, Charles A. Ramsey, John Angel, George W. Burt, Frank S. Lee, Carl G. Shear, Perry Mack, John Ferrington, Sylvester Shear, Leroy Naylor, Louis Gowa, Roy D. Tupper, Raymond Stuckey, Ross B. Northrop, Elma E. Smith, George Churches, Henry A. Miller, Herman C. Maas, Arthur Westlake, Edward Killian, Charles Heise, and James A. Miller. C.H. Krugler was Cashier. When the bank received its state charter in 1916, Roy H. Burgess became Vice-President.

Stay tuned for part 3, the last in our bank series, featuring Wayne County and Home Savings Bank. This building has been restored and looks unbelievable!

Thanks again to the Burt family for donating the deposit bag. It’s an amazing item to have in our collection! Swing by the museum to see it on display.

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