First Brookings Bank was in railroad car
September 04, 2001 11:00 pm
Originally in a box car, the Brookings State Bank had this building in 1915. ().
Originally in a box car, the Brookings State Bank had this building in 1915. ().

The first bank in Brookings was located in a discarded railroad box car, where it remained for some years.

Owned by George D. Wood, who also had banks in Gold Beach and in Crescent City, it was named the Brookings State Bank. He later moved it to the old Crissey Building on Chetco Avenue, where the vault could still be seen in 1979. He and his family lived over the bank for a time, until he built a home on Pacific Avenue.

When the Great Depression hit the nation in 1932 this bank, like all others in the United States, was closed for three days by order of President Franklin Roosevelt. The Brookings State Bank never did reopen, but eventually it paid off all its depositors in full.

Eighteen years passed before Brookings again had any banking facilities. In May 1952, the Oregon State Bank opened for business, in the same location its predecessor had occupied. Estes Morton was the president. In 1953 he reported phenomenal gains in deposits a 42 per cent increase, highest anywhere in the state. On Dec. 31, 1953, its deposits totaled $2,900,000.

The following year the Oregon State Bank was purchased by the U.S. National Bank as its 44th branch. Morton was retained as its first manager.

U.S. National Bank had a building constructed for it in 1955. Its manager from 1968 through 1979 was Allen B. Finch.

Western Bank came to town with its Brookings branch in 1964, in the newly-built quarters it occupies on North Chetco Avenue. According to Ray Nidifer, it was attracted and established here through the efforts of a Brookings Development Corp., composed of 10 local businessmen, with Nidifer as president. He said at that time:

We hope to survey the industrial potentials of the area and seek out new products and new payrolls for Southern Curry County.

Other officials of the corporation were Murry Palmer and Don Horton, vice presidents; Ben Franklin, secretary-treasurer; and Earl Breuer, Fred Fox, Calvin Gorte, Al Phillips, Clive Manley and John Ebinger as members of the Board of Directors.

The corporation financed the construction of the Westen Bank building and rented it to the Bank for five years. Then the bank bought the building, and the corporation was dissolved.

First manager of the Western Bank was Harley Nissen, who served from 1964-67. Then came a series of others: Cy Ziegler, Hoyd Jensen, Francis Cliff Ayres, Roger Ebert, C. W. Bill Hansen and Jeremy Monroe.

Western Bank opened a branch in Harbor in 1975, in a trailer-mobile home. Three years later it moved into its new, shingled building in the Harbor Shopping Center. Jim Wilson was first manager there, followed there by Clyde Hill.

In 1979, the newest bank in our community was the locally-owned Coast Community Bank, also located in Harbor's Shopping Center. This was opened in late November 1978, in temporary quarters which it will occupy until its permanent building is constructed on site. First officers are Ron Smith, president; Jim Wilson, vice president, and cashier Laura Jones.

In 1958 Brookings Plywood Co. employees started the Chetco Federal Credit Union. It was formed by Ed Laehn, with less than a dozen subscribers and $38 in capital. At first the office was Lahne's home, then it was established in the Grayshel Building, moved to Ray's Sentry Market complex, and in 1973 bought land for its own building near the Mobile Service station. Within nine years from its founding its assets hit the 1 million dollar mark. In 1978 the credit union installed its own computer system.

The first Board of Directors were: Ed Laehn, Lee Morse, Pat Patterson, Ed Vernon, and George Whillock. Laehn was treasurer-manager for many years.

The Brookings branch of the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Grants Pass was established in 1971, in a temporary location on Chetco Avenue, while the new office building with the "Time and Temperature" sign was under construction. In 1977, its name was changed to Evergreen Federal Savings and Loan Association. Since opening its branch in Brookings Evergreen improved and updated its facilities, including installation of on-line computer service for all accounts.

Furniture and autos

Archie Hendricks opened the first furniture store in the area. After a family tragedy his wife took over the business and subsequently sold it to Ben Phetterplace, who, in turn, sold to Harold Young. After some years Young moved his store to 810 Chetco Avenue where he operated for about five years. Then he held an auction, sold all his goods and left. Leo Appel then leased that location and with his wife and son conducted a furniture store business there, later moving to a new building in Harbor which is still operated by the family in 2001.

About this same time Bob Ames of Crescent City opened an appliance and furniture store on Chetco Avenue.

The first automobile agency in the area was established by partners E. K. Meadows and C. Edward Dempsey, of Crescent City, California. They ran an agency there, and in 1951 decided that Dodge and Plymouth cars could be sold up here. Dempsey came and started a used-car business, and soon afterward the partners constructed the building that now houses Akin Motors as their agency office and showroom. Dempsey managed the business here. Five years later George Dunnings started a Ford agency in what is now the Brookings Supply store; in 1958, Frank Akin purchased this agency and moved to his present location in 1963.

About 1957 Ralph Menning built a building at the north end of Chetco Avenue where he sold Ramblers and Buicks. Dick Olsen, from Gold Beach, took over this agency and added Chevrolets to his line. Volstedt Motors of Coos Bay came to Brookings in 1972 with the Volkswagen. This company was purchased by Bernie Bishop, who now helps his son Rick operate Bernie Bishop Mazda.

About this time Herbert Crook and his partner, Lawrence Payne, started Chetco Motors, later named Payne Motors, now called Menasco Motors which bought out Payne. From the late 1960s until he retired in 1977 Fred Fox sold International cars from his place on Chetco Avenue, the present Brookings Supply Company.

In 1979, the newest auto dealer in town is Coast Chrysler Center on central Chetco Avenue.

Taxi service

Richard Allen, associated with Gold Beach Taxi, has opened up a taxi service in this area, last week when a new Nash sedan was pressed into service at the stand at Hotel Brookings.

To Mrs. Earl Munson went the honor of being the first fare when she engaged the taxi to make a trip to Hanscams for purchases. The Pilot, May 3, 1951.

The first drive-in service station was opened by a Mr. Pidgeon at the present Shell station site (his station burned). Before that , gasoline was sold at Claude Trimbles garage and at Driskells store in Brookings, and at Mark Woods store in Harbor. Also the Bailey Brothers sold gas at lower Harbor hill.